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Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson,

Hi guys! A computer error practically killed everything I wrote for this week's column so I'm starting over from scratch and I forgot what I wrote for the opening so here we go!

At Anime Boston I've seen a few dealers with animation cels from various series, OVAs and movies. But the size, quality, and especially the price vary between cels - even amongst cels from the same production. I can understand that given the uniqueness of a cel it can be expensive, but what other factors cause the values to different from a few dozen dollars to hundreds - possibly thousands? And how recent can you find cels from? A lot of anime now is done on computers, so does that mean animation cels will become rarer to find in the future? Is there any definitive way to tell how an anime was produced? I'm watching the first Bleach movie on Adult Swim now and though it definitely has a lot of computer work, some parts look like they could be hand drawn on cels. Is it more likely for modern movie productions to be done with animation cels mixed in with computer generated animation?

Ah, cel collecting! A noble and expensive endeavor, as you've recently discovered. For an especially terrifying look at the extremes a man will go to collect cels during the heyday of the anime industry, look no further than the documentary footage from Otaku no Video.

To actually answer your question: the price of cels depends on a lot of things. Seeing as how animation in general is composed of hundreds of thousands of individual cels, that means there's a disparity in value over what's actually depicted in the cel itself. If you've got a cel of some smoke rising from Akira or some off-model background character from Rurouni Kenshin, well, nobody really wants those, so you can get those for relatively cheap if you're just looking for a random cel from your favorite show. Now, if you want a good cel of, say, Kaneda on his bike or Kenshin smiling in a full-frame close-up, the people hawking those cels online or at cons obviously know that those are the ones that people actually want, so expect to pay a premium. And by "premium" I mean several hundred dollars or more.

There's also the issue of certain cels from specific shows being extremely rare - Evangelion, for example. Gainax went out of their way to make sure that cels from the original series were never sold to the public, and were only given to employees and their families as gifts. So if you ever see one for sale, it's either a fake, or it's gonna cost you your first-born child. I'd suggest combing through the cel bids on eBay to get a good estimation of both what you're looking to collect, and what you're willing to spend, if cel collecting is something you're interested in. (Full disclosure: when I sell my script to Hollywood and live on a mansion made out of solid gold robots, I will buy every animation cel ever.)

And, yes, all animation is digital now, so cels are out of the question. Occasionally you'll see a few "cels" being sold from recent shows, but those are simply production artwork grafted onto celluloid to shake down hardcore fans from a few thousand bucks. What you *can* still get, for the time being, are some of the actual animation drawings - I'm talking pencil on paper, here. Those are pretty neat, too, but obviously aren't full-colored and such. Basically those drawings are then "cleaned up" and scanned into the computer, where they're inked and colored and plastered onto the finished backgrounds. But now even paper drawings are starting to become scarcer and scarcer, as many of the top-tier animation companies are doing away with paper altogether in favor of fancy new Cintiq drawing tablets.

Collecting animation art is soon to become a lost relic, so get into it while you can, I guess. Happy hunting!

Why is it considered cute for female anime characters to be stupidly clumsy and/or giant pigs about food?

That is actually incorrect: it is *not* cute for female anime characters to clumsily fall down (often revealing their panties as they do so) and pig out on food like Kevin James at a Sizzler.

What it actually is... is a cheap way to play upon the stereotype of the "proper" feminine woman. That is, a graceful and restrained sex, because as we all know clumsiness and gluttony are usually the male's forte. So, then, wouldn't be OUTRIGHT HILARIOUS and OH SO FUNNY if you had some tiny, cute girl fall down all the time? And then she gets really hungry and eats a bunch of food in one sitting?!? Even in stuff like Slayers, those bits got old.

Please, Japan. Stop doing that. Stop making the obvious joke on a long-outdated gender stereotype. I would send you money if you would. At the very least, I will hug and kiss you if you do.

My friends and i would like to start an anime club, but we don't know where to start. The only anime clubs round are at least an hour away. I am the oldest member at this time at the young age of 18, Does that mean that i would have to handle all the legal stuff and what would be all the legal stuff? If i did get the club together what stuff would we do? So the question is "How do i go about starting an anime and what would we do?"

Ah, I remember attempting to start my own high school anime club. I remember it well. Sort of.

If it's at all likely to resemble my own experience in trying to set up a high school anime club, be prepared to deal with a lot of confused stares and unsure rumblings from the school staff. Your first step would be to approach one of your teachers - preferably one with whom you're in good standing, who may not already be stretched thin supporting any other number of clubs and programs (which, in this sad, diseased state of public education, is more likely than not). My buddies Josh and Zara and I managed to convince my AP English teacher that an anime club would be a fun idea, but she was already burdened by dozens of other responsibilities, and so she referred us around to one of the guys in charge of the Media Arts program. We then became unknowing pawns in the hands of a guy named Mr. Crouch - a seemingly innocuous guy at first, despite his disturbing amount of waddling neck-fat. But quickly he began to catch on to the notion that sitting around and watching cartoons after school wasn't tied to any particular curriculum. Which he then attempted to change.

After a few months of back and forth with him, and with the concession of offering perhaps the educational and artistic elements of animation as well as discussing future careers in the field of digital animation and design he relented and gave us the OK to move forward with it - but by then we were all so tired and worn-out by the rigmarole that we all gave up on it. Thankfully, we found out that there was a much larger, established anime club that met at the University, so we were all over that.

So basically, be prepared to deal with concerned teachers and faculty who are unsure about the educational prospects of anime. But, if you manage to find someone on campus willing to act as a sponsor, then they'll have all the necessary steps you need to take to make your anime club dream a wonderfully nerdy reality!

I know that I've gotten emails about producing animated content myself before, but this one is downright strange:

Dear Sir,

Would you please send me a quotation for a dubbing in japanese version, including the followings:

- Adaptation of the scenario (dialogues list) from english to japanese.

- Studio

- Actors payment (dubbing)

- Recording and mixing (version 2.0 Lt/Rt) + transfer of mix on digital bétacam NTSC.

The length of the film is 94 minutes and the tittle is "SUMMER LOVE", could you tell me the time frame in wich you can complete the necessary tasks ?

I remain available for futher inquires, that you may have.

Kind regards

Granted, I'm always flattered when people assume that I have that much sway in the cartoon 'biz, but I'm going to go ahead and refute this French guy's offer on the grounds that I would make it terrible. Seriously, if I were ever in charge of dubbing anything into another language I would probably fill it with nothing but quotes from David Lynch movies.

Yeah. Terrible idea.

O boy! Hey Answerfans time! Let's kick it! Here was last week's big brain-busting question:

Sam kicks it off with an old favorite in the so-bad-it-needs-to-be-stopped canon:

The series that I couldn't quit on when I should've was Final Fantasy Unlimited (which was was actually pretty limited).

This was an anime show that did everything wrong: everyone and everything had an unattractive, unappealing design, the story was too slow and strange, the main cast was far from likable, and to top it all off, it suffered from a very bad dub (some supporting characters had better voices than the main heroes & villains). It's an insult to Final Fantasy and its fans.

Yet some strange force compelled me to see it through to the end. Things actually picked up some in the fourth episode thanks to the introduction of Cid, who ended up being the 2nd best looking and most likable character on the show and a cool action scene where Makinshi (the best looking character) kicked ass. After that, I'd occasionally meet an interesting & likable character or something cool would happen. It didn't help the series very much in the end, but it was enough to keep me watching. Though I'm not very proud of that...

Ben had that sinking, nasty feeling about Tenchi in Tokyo:

Anything on NBC since fall 2006. (Hi-yo!)

But seriously. Tenchi in Tokyo.

In August 2000, fresh off of watching Tenchi Muyo on Cartoon Network (and renting the tapes for Tenchi Universe and Tenchi Muyo In Love), I couldn't wait to get my hands on more Tenchi-related material. Needless to say, I made the unfortunate mistake of discovering Tenchi In Tokyo at (the late) Purple Potamus Video (which had almost every conceivable licensed anime TV series, OVA and movie on tape, dubbed or subbed). I popped in the tape, and four episodes later, I was in disbelief. What happened to the character designs? Why was I stuck with goofy-looking versions of Ryoko, Ayeka, and (my favorite compromised-by-mainstream-continuity character) Kiyone? Why were all the main characters acting like they were part of an episode of Looney Tunes? Why was the main villain some little girl who looked like she belonged at a Russian rave? What happened to the truly threatening villains with elaborate motives, like Kagato and Kain? And what was the deal with Sakuya? Nevertheless, being the die-hard fan I was (or maybe just being foolishly naive, since I was still new to the world of anime), I stuck it out through the entire Tenchi In Tokyo run on Cartoon Network. In retrospect, I probably should've stuck with watching then-new episodes of Sailor Moon instead; that way, I wouldn't have subjected myself to a franchise's decline from romantic, slice-of-life sci-fi comedy adventure, to a twisted, slapstick-on-acid shell of its' former self. And yet, I couldn't pull myself away. Granted, nearly all the episodes of Tenchi In Tokyo were horrendous, but I found myself oddly fascinated by Sakuya. Sure, she was probably the "Jason Todd/Robin" of the Tenchi-verse, but she was also the most cheerful and down-to-earth gal in all of Tenchi's harem (I'd say Achika, but that's just wrong on so many levels). Perhaps Sakuya appealed to me on a psychological level as the ideal gal I would've liked to have dated in high school, but I've already said too much (this is about an anime train wreck, and not me, after all).

By series' end, I was miffed at how the story ended, so I took a deep breath and wrote the first chapter of my first-ever fanfic in only a few hours (it was a DBZ/Tenchi In Tokyo fanfic, which has *SPOILER ALERT* Sakuya confined to being a very minor character and getting killed in dramatic fashion, as well as Kiyone and Trunks as a couple). Yes, such a hideous pile of anime garbage inspired me to write, but it didn't end there. I went on to write other fanfics and, later in college, used my experiences to ace my Creative Writing course. Years later, I pretty much quit fanfic writing (moving on to more noble pursuits, such as community service, international travel, getting a job and earning a paycheck), but I still look back at Tenchi In Tokyo as being the spark that lit my creative fire (and as being one of the worst anime series I ever watched, yet still not as bad as Samurai Shodown, Tekken or Art Of Fighting).

Actually, Earl, that's a pretty good summation of about 45% percent of The Sky Crawlers:

Well, I might as well just hang a giant target on my back, but I guess I'm just in a stupid mood, because I'm going to say this anyway, so please bear with this until you hear my reasoning:

I did not like Mamoru Oshii's The Sky Crawlers. I'm not saying it was a terrible movie, by any means. The characters, the plot, the fight scenes were all fantastic, but I find some of the other aspects of the movie incredibly pathetic.

First of all, I have a bone to pick with the animation. Several times in the film, Yuichi stops moving, which by itself isn't so odd in anime, but a lot of the time it's when he's the focus of the scene, and it's always for too long. In one crucial scene where he is in discussion with a conflicted pilot, he never moves. He just faces the wall in the fetal position for about five minutes. A young woman on his bed, who is having a major emotional crisis, unravels the movie's most crucial mystery, and they don't even bother to make the main character move. And this happens all the time. He'll pocket a lighter, in the middle of the screen, and just freeze, for over a minute, in an odd pose. Another shining example is watching a completely still Kusinnagi wait for her bowling ball for about forty-five seconds. It drove me up the wall.

My second complaint is with the dialogue. I know the movie is intensely internalized, and all of the plot is subtly interwoven with the characters' interactions, but I think that there's a limit to just how inane conversation should become in a critically acclaimed film. It could be the English dub, but I think they could do better than: "How can you eat that? It's inedible?" "Yes, but it's made from edible things" And grammatically, Yuichi's last line is such a disaster, I can only hope the original dialogue was not this bad.

A smaller problem was that of the soundtrack, if you can call it that, so rarely was it heard. And as an added bonus, I heard the composer won an award for their work in the film. And finally, on the most shallow level possible, Yuichi looks like a Japanese Pillsbury Doughboy, which kept me amused the entire duration of the movie.

Deanna may be shocked to learn that the English actors behind X/1999 the movie were, in fact, quite bored:

First off, although I love anime dearly, I can clearly say and agree that a big lot of it is total crap. Even some of the shows I enjoy so much are really nothing more than another lame brain idea and are so overrated... but hey, you enjoy what you enjoy.

However, there is one anime movie that I watch just to make fun of it. It is the worst anime movie I've ever watched because it strips the actual story down to nothing and characters aren't treated as characters but moving targets just waiting to go down, one by one.

This movie I speak of, is the X/1999 movie. Now, I know a lot of people who do enjoy the movie and back when it was first released, I did too. But as I grew up and learned more about X/1999, I realized- "wow, this movie is really bad." The animation is beautiful, but that is it's only triumph card. While the music isn't necessarily bad, the movie story line, characters, and dear lord... the acting... are atrocious. I have watched the original Japanese version once and it wasn't bad, but the English dub is. X/1999 movie takes the characters and butchers them... literally! Granted, it's a movie version of a manga that spans a few volumes(and has never been finished!), but the character development hurt the movie that much. You meet a character, only to watch them die the next. And the english dub acting has become a riffing event for myself. The actors sound bored or like they are trying too hard that it just sounds incredibly lame.

I find this movie so bad that I feel a little enraged at X/1999 fans that say they like it. But yet, I love watching the english dub of it because it's that bad.

No, no, Giascle, do not let that curiosity get the better of you. Do not:

The anime I saw that was so bad it was fascinating is undoubtedly Eiken. I once asked on a forum, "what would you guys consider is Fanservice: the Anime?" After the expected Ikkitousen/Agent Aika responses, I was hit with one of which I'd never heard. I checked ANN, and when I saw a picture of twelve-year-old girl with an 111 cm bust, I was so stunned I just had to check it out. After gagging every three seconds, hating every single character (isn't finding the girls attractive like, the GOAL of ecchi shows?), and not knowing what the hell was going on (it just seemed to have five minutes of a "plot," and then quickly switched to something completely different, then did it again), I was of course, ready to go to the studio that made it and drown every single staff member with the gallons of blood streaming from my eyes. And yet, a short while after I finished the first episode, I became curious about the rest. Where could they possibly go with this? Would there ever be a likable aspect? I never watched the second episode, but the curiosity stills digs at me from time to time.

Darcelo spins her answer around and around like a spinning top:

Definetly, BeyBlade.

I'm a weird person - I'm actually never ticked off that much by those merchandise driven anime series that elevate a silly children's game to a religion-level of global importance (like Yu-Gi-Oh!). But for some reason, BeyBlade just makes me.... argh.

The story goes about a kid who plays "BeyBlade", a game of spinning tops (that can apparently clash hard enough with each other to start a combustion. Damn!) when one day an ancient spirit of a blue dragon incarnates in his spinning top because he was chosen by it or something. Said dragon, called Dragoon, is an ancient magical beast thing that age after age always lends its power to the era's most common weapon to be used in battle (why didn't it fuse with a revolver is anyone's guess). Then the kid has to use this sacred spirit that battles against EVIL TO... fight in tournament after tournament after tournament. Okay.

I guess it wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so mind bogglingly stupid. The characters are annoying to unbelieavable levels, and even the pseudo-Badass character (Kai) is ridiculous due to how ridiculously serious he takes the game (and why does he paints his face like a native-person?). The others just follow suit, with your usual five-man band - we have the happy going guy, the hot-blooded main character guy, the nerdish smart guy, the chinese kung-fu guy, the pseudo-badass, and later they're joined by the officialy useless girl that just hangs around and do absolutely nothing. Wow. That sure looks like a fun gang, eh?

The over-the-topness is also very uncomfortable. For example, every tournament, no matter how minor and insignificant, will have a gigantic audience who will root and go crazy by watching a bunch of 10 year-olds playing with spinning tops (and eventually some kind of evil organization will infiltrate the tournaments to try and take over the world with the power of spinning tops. It's an everyday thing, really).

Oh, and it gets BETTER! Since spinning tops hitting each other randomly would be just too dull, the writers decided to make things interesting and make the BeyBlades become like a Mon. In a BeyBlade battle, you can order your top to go right, go left, go backwards, be put in defense mode, enter inside a miniature house waiting for its oponent to pass below it so it can use an aerial attack (seriously), and so on. I guess it would be acceptable (but not really good) if only the tops with the magical beast within them did that, but every single top can do this "commanding strategy" thing, even those who are just normal tops. Take that, physics!

Of course, the animation is pretty bland (using and abusing of conspicuous CG effects) and the character designs are impossible to take seriously; from the hair to the clothes to the facial expressions, they look extraordinarely ridiculous (and these are some of the most decent-looking, mind you).

In all - the animation is bad, the story is pointless, the art is downright bad and the characters are incredibly unlikable. And while I just hate it so much, I also keep criticizing it for the heck of it, and I would be lying if I said I didn't watch at least the entire first season. It's fascinating on how something so un-entertaining can be created just to advertise a child's product. I think that should nullify the purpose, but maybe that's just me.

Shannon invokes Manos: The Hands of Fate. She does.

I don't typically submit anything of this sort, but this week's question is too good not to jump in on.

Weiss Kreuz ( Weiß-- or Knight Hunters as the American release called it.)

Here we have one of the most ridiculous, preposterous concepts for a show in history. Assassins by night...florists by day. Oh yes, florists. Very pretty, very stupidly stereotyped florists. You have the emo jerk with the nasty attitude (with a heart of gold under the exterior of course), the jock, the playboy (who drowns his sorrows in...well...women), and the one who looks like a goddamn twelve year old despite being much older than that. Their only customers nine times out of ten are flocks of schoolgirls with wads of money waiting to buy a rose from one of these guys.

But by cover of night, they work for a secret organization hellbent on 'denying the tomorrows' of numerous corrupt politicians, mass murderers, and gang leaders. Oh, and did I mention their code names are...cats? That's right kids, cats. And these boys receive their missions from a lady with insanely curly hair who has the indecency to wear ankle socks with stilettos (which I'd like to punch her for every time she walks on screen), and a silhouette of a man who delivers these missions by video tape from some creepy office halfway across town. Of course, there's a story here as to who he is and what not, but why ruin the goofiness for anyone who hasn't seen this yet?

The worst part is that the group of bad guys in this series are more enjoyable than the good guys! They don't pretend or hide behind a fake identity. Of course, if I was batshit crazy, I wouldn't hide it either. The bad guys also have some spiffy powers, like telepathy, precognition, telekinesis, and aversion to feeling pain. Yeah, Schwartz is cool enough for their OWN series. I'll admit it.

This series is so god awful that I'm absolutely in love with it. The animation in the first two seasons was terrible, cheap stuff paid for, I believe, by Takehito Koyasu (yes, Il Palazzo himself). This whole thing is his brain child, and of course it's full of his friends. There are image albums, drama Cd's, collector's books and manga, as well as Seiyuu Image concerts they performed, one of which has Miki Shinichirou dressed in a suit covered in...needles? What. The. HELL. They even went on to do a third season called Gluhen, where for reasons I won't get into here the characters went through a total redesign, some of which are the lamest things I've ever seen grace a screen. I'd rather watch Manos The Hands of Fate than stare at Yohji's coat and painted on cross. *shudder*

But if you want to amuse the crap out of yourself, check this out, because it sucks you in, and you can't help but laugh at how awful and equally awesome it is for BEING so awful.

Dylan wraps it up with perhaps the ultimate example of badness:

I'll say two words and walk away.....Musashi Gundoh! Thats all that needs to be said really *laughs*

Don't pat yourselves on the back just yet, guys. I have... ANOTHER QUESTION FOR NEXT TIME:

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 have 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'm out of time and out of space, so I will see all of you next week!

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