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Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson,

Good day guys! Or night. Whatever time of day your schedule allows you to read my thing each week. Or every other week. Look, I'm flexible, time-wise. Read it whenever and however often you want. Not a big deal.

Awkward introductions aside, greetings! I'm foregoing the madness of Comic-Con this year because I honestly only have the tolerance (and budget; mainly budget) for one big convention per year, so. In betwixt all the nerd news you and I will be reading about Pixar and James Cameron and Robert Pattinson's keenly manicured eyebrows, hopefully you have a little time left in your schedule for li'l ol' Answerman.

I'll get straight to the point: Is there any hope that we'll see an R1 release of Macross Frontier, or any future Macross titles ever? Are the folks at Harmony Gold really so greedy and pigheaded that they'll squabble over rights to completely new series?

Wait, wait. I've been Answerman for over six months now and I haven't yet received any questions about anything Macross-related until just now?! For shame, anime fans.

Although, in this instance I'd suspect it's because the die-hard Macross fans that still exist in the US know full well the answers to any Macross-related questions: No. Or at least, not likely. Harmony Gold has a vested interest in keeping the Robotech name alive and well, so they'd much rather spend their time and money creating mediocre direct-to-DVD affairs rather than concern themselves with Macross nonsense. And Big West and Tatsunoko are still squabbling over who gets to sell Macross toys to whom outside of Japan, and if they can't sell any toys, the Macross property itself has no interest to them.

I think the real answer to this question is that we didn't even get Macross Zero to come out in the US. And there was no reason, at the time, for it NOT to have been released. It was short, it was pretty, it was entertaining, and the R1 anime DVD market was still flourishing at the time. According to lots of off-the-record chatter, it was *this* close to being released. But, as is usual with Macross, stupid bureaucratic nonsense made its release a much more expensive proposition than could be made profitable, so alone it sat, never seeing the light of day.

Macross Frontier, no offense meant to its many ardent fans, is a much goofier adventure than Zero – not quite as out-there as Macross 7, but it's silly enough to certainly give most companies pause, I'm sure. The US anime market, as I say practically every week, is very delicate and particular at the moment, and anything less than a sure-fire hit isn't likely to cross the pond. And, sadly, Macross isn't the surefire hit franchise in the US that it once was. ADV spent a fortune remastering and re-releasing the original series, and its sales ranged from mediocre to terrible. Yet Robotech still sells gangbusters. It's a cold, cold world out there.

Hey Answerman.
I've been wondering why lately anime/manga magazines have stopped production within the past few years and months, such as Newtype USA, Anime Insider, and the Shojo Beat magazine. Are people just not that into anime and manga anymore, or does this have to do with the declining economy?
Thanks in advance!

It's a bit of both, in complete honesty, but it's important to remember that it's not just anime publications that are dropping like diseased flies. The New York Times is in threat of closure, for Christ's sake. Print, as we know it, is dead. It's not dying, it is dead. The Internet says hello, and goodbye, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. We've got metrics and blogs and aggregators and more choices than ever about how we, as a culture, can digest and process our information, and how we share that information with others. We no longer want research and pages-long feature articles; we want bite-sized snippets of glib information and gossip, delivered to us instantly via grammatically incorrect 180-word Twitter feeds.

…er, sorry for the rant there. But really, the first casualty of the decline of the print dinosaur has been, obviously, so-called “enthusiast” press outlets. “Enthusiast” in this case being a marketing buzzword that publishers use to call “nerd stuff.” Outside of sheer loyalty, why would anybody who would subscribe to something like PC Gamer or Newtype USA bother with it when that same demographic, on average, subscribes to about two or three separate blogs and news feeds daily devoted to their favorite “enthusiast” topic?

Aside from the business side, the true casualty here is that all of the above magazines you've mentioned have had to lay off their entire respective staff. And these are people that I myself have met or worked with or, in certain circumstances, known for years. Any time a dedicated crew of highly-skilled individuals solemnly collect their pink slips en masse is a depressing time and a sobering reminder of the fragility of the economy governing our little “enthusiast” hobby. Real, honest lives are on the line, and sometimes they get a raw deal. Luckily, there are still a plethora of options available for those folks, and I know that most of them were able to settle relatively easily into other areas, but there are still others that are no doubt struggling to be able to keep working within this industry, and it's only likely to get even harder until someone stumbles across the magic formula to monetize everything that's on the internet.

You once answered a question about why so many anime heroes are orphans. This one's somewhat related to that: Why are there so many anime and manga characters who grow up without a parent, because that parent left to follow their dream / find their purpose / dedicate their life to some cause? And the child never resents them for that but loves them unconditionally, doesn't have much of a problem with them abandoning him or her beyond being a little sad, and of course the child goes on to follow the same dream, the same calling, takes up the same job, and happily reunites with the parent thanks to it. Would this be a cultural thing, Japanese kids getting taught that work really is much more important than family or anything else, and that they shouldn't resent their parents for never having time for them, but should embrace this attitude and chose work over everything else too? Or am I just being cynical?

Erm, you might be overthinking it just a little bit, but I think you're on to something with that idea. The absentee dad/ hard-working earnest breadwinner father-figure is a pretty common theme in anime, certainly, and it definitely has its roots in reality. Just look at the saga between Hayao Miyazaki and his son, Goro. Except that situation is the harsh reality instead of the escapist fantasy you've described; Goro worked tirelessly and hard to prove to his “ogre” (as Goro himself once described him) father who was far too absorbed in his work to be bothered to raise his family, and so he directed Ghibli's uneven Tales of Earthsea film both to defy his famous father's wishes as well as prove himself as an artistic equal.

But of course, you're probably referencing things like One Piece and Pokemon where spritely, colorful children set out at a young age to trace their missing father's footsteps and embark upon adventure, and all that. I think that's mainly just a childish fantasy brought to life; all kids around that age are entranced by that notion of striking out as an independent entity, beholden to no-one but themselves and their friends, but doing so without forsaking the love of their families, who of course “understand” the importance of such a journey, or whatever. I'd be lying if I said that such fantasies didn't apply to myself at that age; I read all the dumb Boxcar Children novels I could get my hands on, building extravagant forts out in the desert that we half-heartedly planned to have months-long adventures in, braving the wilderness some five blocks away from our houses. So, no, I don't think it's particularly exclusive to Japanese culture, but there are certain idiosyncrasies about such a fantasy that are no doubt especially appealing.

You just can't please everyone. So stop, think. Listen to your heart.

Seriously last week a guy asked a simple question-"how many frames does the average anime have and why do they have such a low framerate."

You responded with 4 paragraphs and STILL didn't answer his question... I heard it was 8 btw.

Much kudos to Everything is Terrible for all the mind-warping fun.

Are we all ready for another heapin' dose of Hey, Answerfans?! I really hope so because that's all I've got left at this point. I will force you to be ready for it if not. I have ways. I know people.

Here's last week's question, just as a quick reminder:

coolcat rings in the joys of managing her own high school anime club, with turtle pee:

My friends and I started an anime club at our high school of in mid 2007, I was the President during that time, and started back up it up again in early 2009 I was VP, that time really test our friendship, but I won't bore you with that story. Anyway first year an incident that really stood out in my mind and everyone else that was there involved our Vice President. Okay before I start I must state that our VP's not a jerk he just can be waaay too silly at times, he's a really good friend and a competent VP, the club member's saw him as the lovable buffoon and hope you take it way as well. Here goes: Our sponsor had two turtle (and one snake which isn't relevant to this story), one of which our Vice President had a weird infatuation with. He would mindlessly stroke Lisa (the turtle) in strange Dr. Evil kind of way, sometimes when he's upfront talking to the club. Anyway sometimes the turtle would urinate, sometimes on the floor, usually on his leg. Later we were playing a trivia game, I asked a trivia question that got him riled up (He said no Death Note question but I did it anyway, I don't want to get into it) and he came stomping angrily to me accidently slipping in you guessed it the turtle pee from earlier. He fell flat on his back which sounded really hard. Everyone in the room burst into laughter. A different event, evolving the same guy and another trivia game. We just finished the game and the prize was Pocky our VP was being a sore loser when I awarded the winner with the prize, the VP snatched it from my hands and proceeded to run out the door into the hallway causing a lot of racket and nearby getting the club in trouble with the other teachers. No one there EVER let him live that down. Everyone found the anime club fun and keep asking if we start it up again next, we didn't, but we did restart it up again the school year succeeding it.

Behold Vanessa's wistful memories:

I have to admit that the good memories of my high school's anime club vastly outweigh the bad ones. There wasn't a meeting where I didn't giggle uncontrollably from the captains' and member's humorous commentary on anime we watched. I could choose an important memory as my good one, from the day I became one of the vice-captains of the club to the numerous out-of-school meetings we have, but I'm going to choose to describe our first photoshoot at Anime Boston 2008.

It was a chilly Saturday in March. After downing yet another slice of pizza, I get up from my table as three other people and I head to the door at the back of the cafeteria to wait for the rest of our group. As I waited for my group, I continuously checked my phone to see when they would get to the courtyard. Once they arrived with the anime club members of a rival high school, we exchanged greetings, gave all of our cameras to one person, and got into one big clump of people. After we took some serious group pictures, it was time to go crazy. We threw away the rules of society and made the courtyard our domain. While two people were sword fighting, "Sora" from Kingdom Hearts pretended to be a matador with someone's jacket. Some of us just sat down and chatted about the weather and what sort of deal they got in the Dealer's Room. We didn't care if the "normal" people were watching. We were seizing the day and living the moment. In fact, we were no different than the kind of people that don't care for or look down on otaku culture, getting together with friends...that's socially acceptable, right? We just happened to be wearing funny outfits. Old friends were reunited and new friends were made that day. Even though we were from rival schools, we all loved the same thing. We put aside whatever differences the unwritten rules of high school had put in the back of our brains to act like happy, anime-overloaded idiots in the middle of Boston. We were just a couple of kids having fun and hanging out, and in the end, that's all that matters.

Now here comes the inevitable part of this trip down memory lane: the bad memories. While the good memories of my most-cherished Anime Club ranged from hysterically funny to heartwarming, the bad ones lived in the shadows, often eclipsed by the pleasant memories of that group. I don't have many bad memories of this club, but one memory stands out above the rest, which ended up being more awkward than scarring.

As a freshman in high school, I used the Anime Club as safe haven from the Plastic-filled hallways of the school day. I was able to remove my honor student mask for the day and just relax with what I would call a second family. However, every family has a member they don't really like. Let's call this member "Bob". "Bob" was quiet and sometimes intimidating. You didn't really know what was going on in his head. One day, the captains of the club decided to go with their plan of having an extra-long Friday meeting/party. Not only did they bring in their anime to watch, but "Bob" also brought in something: Initial D Battle Stage, a compilation of the races from the Initial D anime. The captians, knowing that none of us really cared for an anime about a Tofu-delivery boy who is also a drag racer, reluctantly put in the DVD and watched the tension rise. About five minutes into the movie, the club members were restless and bored, while "Bob" was just sitting there enjoying himself. The captains knew something was wrong, so they shut off the movie and called all of us but "Bob" into the hallway. They asked us if we wanted to continue watching it. The vote was unanimous: none of us wanted to continue watching it. "Bob" wasn't too thrilled with the decision, so he left. No one heard from him again. It was the most awkward situation involving the club I had ever been in. I was already fresh from the extremely awkward stage of my life known as middle school. I didn't want the kind of tension from the MS anime club to be transferred over to this one. It was a harsh welcome to the conflicts of high school. A few meetings later, we put the whole incident behind us, making that memory something to laugh and grimace at.

Anime clubs, to me, are like miniature anime cons, but without all the bad hygiene and random Caramelldansen dancers in the halls. They're alike in the sense that no matter which kind of person is there, be they the cynical fan who appreciates anime as more of an art form than a hobby or the fan that has every single figurine of Yoko from Gurren Lagann released thus far, they will have both good and bad memories, carefree and awkward memories, to recall from the experience.

Sailor Lum's memories are brief and, as such, witty:

Ah, the good ol' days of the anime club...where we would watch 5th generation copies of unsubtitled Ranma 1/2 episodes and like it. My favorite memory has to be of everyone in the room standing up when the Hidamari opening of Maison Ikkoku started, and mimiking the dance the characters did on the screen together. Good times.

Kitty-Chan wasn't quite as enamored with the club atmosphere:

Anime Clubs were something that always sounded like heaven to me, and for a small time they were, but the reality of it is that good Anime Clubs are few and far between. I tried to start one at my high school and was met by a wall of teachers who believe that school was not the place to have such fun. When I went to college there was no club, and my boyfriend and I busted our butts to finally bring our small grouping of friends together in a single room to watch and discuss, we even got a sponsor and on my final year as the clubs president we attend a convention together. I graduated and the very next year the club was no more with only the new president returning to the meetings. Now in my second wave of college I find myself with very little time to attend the club that we have on my new campus, but on the nights I do attend there is either a heated argument over what we should watch or we simply watch the same show over and over because it is what the “otaku” want. (I put the word in quotes to show that they call themselves that and anyone who disagrees with them is not fit to even think about anime) So really what it comes down to is Anime Clubs are much like governments, they look just fine on paper and people get very excited about them, but in practice we find that Anime Clubs are clumsy on their feet and filled with people that bludgeon anything might be different from their norm.

Lily thinks kissing is gross.

Ninety percent of my club experiences have been positive. Our dorky escapades were the best: scraping together money for a convention, sewing group cosplays in dimly lit basements, arguing over whether Ichigo loves Rukia or Orihime or if Tite Kubo himself doesn't know. It's even a great place to have a heart-to-heart, because when you cry, that makes you totally moe. A lot of the time, you are stereotyped by others for partaking in the anime community, so--as blatantly cheesy as this is--it's kind of refreshing to get to be yourself without consequence by joining a club.

Even so, there is one small thing I'd like to change:

The relationships. Yes--because apparently us nerds are incapable of dating outside of our box-set-sized comfort zones, and all couples must be composed of our own members. But, c'mon, guys--do you really have to start kissing in the middle of Wolf's Rain? Is that REALLY necessary?

Laura really throws down the gauntlet, here. Will I make it to her club meeting? The answer is blowin' in the wind, or perhaps another Bob Dylan song:

I am (or was, I´m not quite sure) a member of the Pima CC Anime Club (you are from Tucson, if I recall well, so you may recognize where this is) and it´s been a whole new kind of adventure for me. Two years ago I moved from Mexico and when I discovered there were clubs at colleges I immediately found the anime club, and my curiosity was so great that I actually spent more than an hour in the bus just to arrive to the meetings.

There was a bit of disappointment because my fellow club members were very quiet and after the anime screenings were over they would just leave. No one, besides the president, spoke too much or even commented about the anime and movies we saw; and being the new kid in school (and the country) I wanted to make friends who shared the same interests and whom I could speak to about anime.

After going for a while, the news of a convention came by and some of us decided to go. That´s when I got to meet my fellow club members and enjoy for the first time the experience of a well organized convention. It was easier organizing the trip and doing it because there were people with me, otherwise I wouldn´t even go to it because of it being in another city, and the whole experience opened my eyes to a new world and a lot of knowledge about the potential of being an anime fan.

After that, I got the confidence to speak during the club meetings even if it was just a little bit (and to mock the anime we were watching) and I wanted to begin some change on it, but personal circumstances forbid me from going this semester.

Anyhow, I think the experience of an Anime Club is great. Even with its disadvantages, just being able to organize a club (at school or at the library or whichever way its possible) is a great think and we should take that chance. If this message gets published, I wish to take the chance and invite every anime fan living in Tucson, Arizona to go to the Pima Community College Anime Club, you will really have fun and I will like meeting new people (that includes you, Answerman).

Matt, the relationship guru:

I'm the president of my college anime club. I actually started it as well, so we're not a huge group (yet?). Within the first year, two of the club's members met, got to know one another, and ended up getting engaged before the school year had reached its end. I choose to take most of the credit for their relationship. I think next year I'll have to market the club as a "great place to meet your geek of a soulmate".

Grace gives a bit of context to one of the many sordid tales of "Death Notes" being confiscated from schools:

This is my very first response to the Hey Answerfans. I couldn't pass this up, the story I have is begging, no...pleading, to be here. It requires a little of back story, but it's well worth it.

Back in my senior year of High School, I was the vice president of the school's Anime Club. The club had what you usually expected in an anime club, the gamer, the drawer, the fanfictionist, the cosplayer...you get it. But we also had...the dreaded...Narutards. {cue dramatic music} Now, I am not calling all Naruto fans Narutards, but this group of people gave all anime fans a bad name. And they get the nickname due to the fact that in their school pictures, they wore the Naruto headbands you could get at Hot Topic they also would run around the school and try to do ninja tricks off the lockers and yell "Hey Female!" everytime they saw a girl they knew {note, we girls take offence to that just so you know}.

Another example of their stupidity would be their endless attempts to get me and the President to show fansubbed and fandubbed anime, despite the fact that we banned it. They would also talk really loud during the anime we showed, so no one could watch it. They also were not creative at all, they all had art classes and all their artwork had the same chibi Garra or Link from Zelda on it.

They would also try to thrawt my attempts to make Anime club respected. During chances we had to "redeem" our reputation {which this group always tarnished} they would ruin it by saying something stupid to the school newspaper, or make DragonBall poses during the yearbook photo.

Now here comes the juicy part of the tale.

This group also followed every trend in anime. As mentioned they had the headbands, but they also had the Death Notes. The group would buy those composition notebooks and put black electric tape over them and write DEATH NOTE on them in White-Out pen. Most of these Notes were what I called Joke Notes, in which they were used in humorous ways {one had Britney Spears written in it}. Now, in the anime Death Note, Light goes and invents this insane security system to protect and hide the Note, you would think the group would do something similar to hide their Notes.

They didn't.

Instead, one of them accidentally leaves their Note in class. It was found...by my sister's best friend {who doesn't know anything about anime or death note}. She turns it in and the school takes it seriously. Let me repeat; THE SCHOOL TOOK THIS SERIOUSLY. In the school's defense, we had a hit list scare the previous year and this Note had a bunch of student's names in it, what else were they to do?

They somehow found out that Death Note was an anime, and almost terminated anime club, thinking we had told them to do this {or that we encouraged it}. We were saved, but some of the students were suspended.

It's been a year since then and I have graduated. I know that the leader of the Narutard group has been elected President of Anime club. I was able to get ahold of the yearbook and low and behold...everyone had a stupid headband on their head and was doing a stupid Naruto, Dragonball, or Code Geass pose as their club photo.

Rounding it out for the evening, hopefully some of the other stories posted here will help Karen in her newly formed leadership position. Congratulations, by the way!

Since I just got into anime just shy of a year ago, my first experience in an Anime Club was this year, when I decided to join. It was pretty awkward, usually some random seniors I barely knew would show up and we would watch Bleach, or some random mecha show. We never really talked and sat there just watching what was happening, and there really wasn't any room or chance to just talk about anime and what we liked about it, but I still kept going despite this. I think it was a combined lack of interaction with the head or the location, but it just didn't go well. Though it wasn't the best experience, somehow (due to the large amount of seniors in the club) I was tossed the position of being head of it next year (Oh dear God how will I be able to do this) but even though my first year wasn't the best I hope I will be able to use that to improve the club and breathe life back into it and possibly even coax the secret anime fans at my school, and I KNOW they exist to join!

So then, what on earth do I have planned for next week's capricious question? Since Comic-Con is fully raging, I couldn't help myself but succumb to the wanton nerd-ery of Hollywood adaptations:

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.

And now I will slowly wave goodbye to you all, standing atop a hill as the sun sets slowly behind me, waving and waving in a slow cadence as you look back and see me eventually engulfed by the encroaching twilight. Remember to hit the forums and yell at me for something, or tell me that I'm awesome, or some combination thereof! Good night!

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