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Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson,

Good evening! Glad to be back. Big thanks to Zac for looking after his baby again while I danced around on stage like an idiot.

Which, for those curious, is still playing for another week! Friday and Saturday, as a matter of fact, so if you're around Tucson and looking for something to do, check out the facebook page, and just look at this stupidly glowing review.

So in other words, I'm in a tremendously good mood, and ready to answer some questions you might have about Japanese anime. Yessir.

Hey Answerman,

I tried to look for an answer to this via Apple's website, but they just don't want me to free form my question. I hope you can help me.

I noticed that it is possible to change the country of iTunes. I changed it to Japanese (日本) and found lots of anime music I wanted, but when I tried to purchase the songs, a pop-up from apple came up saying my "account is only valid for purchases in the US iTunes store." Here I am, trying to support the artist by actually buying their work and not downloading it for free online. But, it looks like apple does not want my money. I found a way to purchase it from a forum online (the people talking we Australian talking about how to purchase stuff from the US store, but I feel the process would work for the Japanese store as well), but it would violate the Terms of Service with Apple, so I do not want to do that.

My question is this; do you have any idea why they will not let me purchase music, or anything for that matter, from any other country's iTunes store? I just would rather not have to import it from Japan, which would cost that much more.

Technically, you still can purchase all those songs you want on the Japanese iTunes: J-List sells iTunes gift cards specifically for the Japanese Apple store. Now, as to why you have to mess around with a middle-man instead of simply being able to toss your American credit card to the eager wallets of Japanese music labels, well.

Much like anime itself and practically every other form of entertainment out there, there are reams upon reams of bureaucratic red-tape in the Japanese music industry designed to wring every last yen via needlessly complicated rights management and royalty collection firms. So in order for Apple to get those artists and labels to step up to the plate and join the iTunes cabal, they had to respect all those rights-related nightmares and that typically involves walling them off from the rest of the world.

Another issue is that Japan's top music publishers are quite the luddites; despite iTunes' tremendous success in Japan, it was a long time coming as far as getting the major labels to to sign up. One of them in particular still hasn't, as a matter of fact, in the hopes that their own proprietary music service takes off. Which it won't. Cough hack Sony. Cough. Also, CD sales in Japan are far from dead dinosaur, much unlike the rest of the world, where making physical copies of your music is akin to tossing money into Niagra Falls.

Ultimately, though, iTunes is proving to be a powerful force both here and in the US, and already I'd say there's still a surprising amount of great J-rock and J-pop available on the US iTunes store. And there's more on the way, once all those cobwebs and red tape can be cut through.

Hey Answerman. I just thought like I had to ask this question because it's just bothering me.

Why do people hate shounen manga/anime with a passion? I mean, seriously. What is it about it that's to be hated? Sure, not all of them are good (i.e. D-Gray Man or Yuyu Hakusho)  but there's others that are true gems of animation (Rurouni Kenshin, Hikaru no Go, DBZ, Slam Dunk, Shaman King) but it's just annoying. It's very annoying to see someone go ZOMG! SHOUNEN! BACK BEAST! BACK! I often see it more specifically with products like Naruto, of which I will make no comment.

Why hate shounen manga and anime so much? Not all of them is bad. If we have to hate shounen then we have to hate shoujo as well- and this is coming from someone that LOVES Bleach and Hikaru no Go but also loves anime/manga like Soul Eater, Lucky Star, Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Fullmetal Alchemist, Shining Tears X Wind and so on. So there, hopelessly obsessed otaku's dreams have been crushed.

I will say this once: nerds on the internet do not account for actual public opinion.

I mean, isn't the opposite actually true? Don't a significant amount of people enjoy shounen stuff, moreso than the small handful of moribund internet nerds shouting contrary opinions in the hopes that they'll be seen as iconoclastic and insightful, instead of just annoying and sad?

That's not to say that there isn't a lot to dislike in shounen series, which there is. I was explaining to a friend recently that the true litmus test to enjoy a long-running shounen series is if you can suspend your disbelief to simply buy the show's premise. Fullmetal Alchemist is a pretty perfect example: Two kids try to resurrect their mom with Magic Science and instead the older brother has to have a metal arm and leg, and the younger brother's soul occupies a giant tin suit, and they try to find a Magic Thing to get their missing flesh back. You can buy it? Good! You'll roll with it and enjoy the show. If you can't, well, you'll likely be annoyed and confused.

But that's neither here nor there. The internet is a place for zealous and overzealous fans alike to shout their opinions louder than the other, which of course is the ultimate way to decipher who is actually Right and Correct. How about instead of worrying about who hates shounen and who hates shoujo, we instead hate the loudmouth butthole nerds on places like 4chan that confuse being bitter and contrary with having a valid opinion on something? Let's just do that.

Dear Answerman;

How come Japanese manga is very much less experimental with the comic medium then the rest of the world? In my reading (and I have read a lot), I have come across almost nothing that purposefully strives to do what only the comic medium can do and dig deeper into the nature of the medium--both through way emotions are conveyed, artistly, and story-telling techniques and thus would be near impossible to animate without changing a little bit of the art style or severly altering the mood conved. Works similar to From Hell, the magaizne RAW (were Maus was serialized), Understanding Comics, Jimmy Corrigan, the works of Moebius, Ghost World, (the list could go on but would be filled mostly with alternative and underground American and European comics). So far, the only real manga that is experimental are the works of Yoshihiro Tatsumi and early Gekigas (but they are all extremely old from the early 1970's). But reading interviews of him, I found out that he didn't try be be experimental. So still, why is there mostly a lack of comic experimentation in Japan?

There is, actually. There are lots. Ever read Tezuka's Dororo? Or Urusawa's new 20th Century Boys? Dororo largely lives in the same style of Tezuka's earlier work, but the pages often become an impressively experimental canvas of striking visual ideas and imagination. 20th Century Boys looks much like your standard boys adventure manga, but cleverly takes a few Alan Moore-esque cues at subversively deconstructing manga and sci-fi storytelling tropes.

But of course, if you brought those two titles up to the sorts of hand-wringing naval-gazing indie-comic-reading hipsters who practically flagellate themselves on the altar of Alan Moore and Art Spiegelmen, you'll likely get blank stares and confused looks of denigration. That's not to say much of the work of manga artists like Robin Nishi, Taiyo Matsumoto, and dozens of others that similarly take bold steps away from the norms of the manga form.

Manga fosters just as much creativity and experimentation as any other comic industry around the world; we haven't seen it here as much because, uh, there isn't a market for it. All manga, i.e., comics from Japan, belong in the manga isle next to ten dozen copies of the same volume of Fruits Basket. Whereas R. Crumb and Harvey Pekar and Daniel Clowes helped to create and foster a market for independent, mold-breaking comic books in the 70's and 80's, so that we now have the term “graphic novel” and a separate (but equal) space to shelve those books instead of tossing them next to trades of Ultimate Avengers.

So, sorry. Unless you live in Japan and hang out at some of the crazier independently owned manga shops around Tokyo, you're unlikely to see the kind of experimental manga that'll make those godforsaken bicycle-riding, Bright Eyes-listening hipster rejects think you're cool.

Zac sorta touched a nerve last week when we highlighted the insanity of one man proudly (?!?) representing the United States Department of Lolicon, or the USDL as it is otherwise known to like-minded crackpots.

Well, of course, he took umbrage to this.

Ok look here damn it. You have embarrassed me & my organization. You behaved like a Toddler! I don't know who the hell you think you are, but let me tell your ass something. I am not a Troll! Do you understand me? I am not fake, lying, or full of crap. The USDL is NOT a Governmental Website! I never said it was either. The USDL is not a made up thing either. We have 2 Trademarks, Several Copyrights, Nearly 300 Members and 7 Websites. Now unlike what you seem to imply, the USDL's Home Page isn't on MySpace!

These are our 5 Main websites you baka:

(websites deleted because they are strange and you really don't want to look at them)

You can post this on the Anime News Network website if you like, and I guarantee you that all hell will break loose. I'm not gonna vandalize, spam, or flood anything, but I assure you, I will send members of the LDTF to ANN Forum and have them defend the USDL if it is attacked again. POSTING MY EMAIL ON THE INTERNET SO IT CAN BE MOCKED IS CHILDISH AND IMMTURE!!! GROW THE HELL UP! Or else you will regret ever ****ing with me? =^_^= Nya!

Neat. Hey, come to my show, dude! It'll be fun.

Here's the question from last time:

Nancy has me hungry for chips, now, thanks:

My fave is the classic from Death Note:

"I'll take a potato chip,...and EAT IT!"

And I can't think of "Marmalade Boy" without remembering how many times Miki would whine, "Oh Yu!"

B.J. is my new favorite person for quoting Samurai Pizza Cats:

There is one line that I regularly use because I only have to replace the first word and it applies to everything:

"Men. Can't live with them, can't throw them down a well and drown them. There ought to be a law."

(Said by Francine from Samurai Pizza Cats in the first episode after Speedy and Guido run off to deliver a pizza to Lucille.)

Seriously, you'd be surprised how versatile that line can be by simply replacing the first word.

Doni has seen things you would not believe. Namely, Garzey's Wing:

Hey, Answerman,

My roommate and I enjoy quoting the tense and emotional scene (from the epic fantasy Garzey's Wing) in which Lord Chris suddenly awakens to the telepathic message from the half of himself that has been sent to Byston Well. "OH MY GOD I FELT LIKE I WAS HAVING A DREAM!" he exclaims. Byston Well Chris further explains, "I have bruises all over my body because I had to fight naked," because, of course, who wouldn't want to know the origin of those strange bruises that Mom keeps commenting on. But the best bit of this whole exchange are the following lines, the prized gems in our treasury of anime quotage:

"There is a war going on! Even dinosaurs are here, and they use bows and arrows! My sword is unbelievably dull!"

Who can blame the Chris of our world who, upon hearing this, resolves, "I must strengthen my mind. I must do chi spiritual unification." Yes, Chris, after watching Garzey's Wing, we could all use some chi spiritual unification.

Kate totally went there, man. She went there.

Probably, due to an obsessive amount of Sailor Moon on Toonami back in the 90s, I can recite Usagi's/Serena's butt-kicking lines by heart. Seriously, because Toonami loved it's Sailor Moon slot and her super-special-awesome manicured baton-twirling catcall, I am now proud to be able to say "Mooooooon Cryystaaaaall Poowweeerrr!" And who can seriously not have a little swell of childhood euphoria when someone strikes a pose, puts their thumb and third finger together, and says, "In the name of the moon, I shall punish you!"

Patrick has many favorites, he can't choose just one!

"Please establish the context before you start speaking." (Kyon from the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)
"I'll be the man to surpass God." (Black Star from Soul Eater)
"I'll go kill myself now." (Nozomu Itoshiki from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei)
"But I just coiled the noose!" (Kitsu Chiri from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, immediately after the previous line)

Ian kinda has the right idea, here.

Gotta be when Armand Assante pissed on Matthew McConaughey in Two for the Money.

OR maybe it's when Naota yells at Mamimi in FLCL and tells her: "I'm the one that's going to save you" while he has one foot in the mouth of a robot monster. That's pretty cool.

Danny remembers animated Freddie Mercury well.

It is not a particularly exciting moment, or even a particularly exciting show. Heck, it doesn't even have that many words. It's the introduction of Freddie in the ultimate badass anime, Cromartie High School. Main Character Kamiyama, having recently been declared the toughest guy in class 1-1, is told to go see the toughest guy in class 1-2. He opens the door and finds himself face to face with, well, Freddie. Imagine a very muscley Freddie Mercury of the band Queen, or failing that, a slightly less muscley Mike Hagger from the game Final Fight. Kamiyama wonder, "Is this guy in high school? Is he even Japanese?" Brief cut to a picture of Freddie Mercury. Kamiyama introduces himself, but gets no response. Back in 1-1 Kamiyama declares, "He didn't give a name, so it's up to me to give him one! I'm... gonna go with Freddie." Cut to another picture of Freddie Mercury. End of scene. Classic.

And finally, Chelle has but one simple, melodic phrase:


Great job, guys! And now for next week, we have... a break! Yep, I'm putting Answerfans on a little hiatus until next week, when I can straighten out all the warped bacteria dancing about in my brain after this whole creative excursion left me as a dried-up husk of a human being. I'm kidding, it's been exhaustively wonderful, and thanks again to Zac for keeping up with this while I was away. See you guys next time!

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