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Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson,

Hello again everyone! No, I will not open with some self-pitying description of how tired I am, or any other indicator of my current emotional state going in to this thing. Nope, no sir. I'm just gonna go right on in, no introduction necessary. No roundabout, nonsensical drivel beforehand meant to personalize my weekly column in any way. No discussing how much I love eating Fruity Pebbles while I'm writing, no talk about how annoying it is when the cat claws at my door every five minutes when I'm editing this thing down, none of that.

I'm just gonna launch into Answerman. Yep. That's what I'm gonna do. Right here, and now.

Hey Answerman:

I looooooved Big Windup!, but was bummed at the end because it's only one season long. It ended it's original TV run in 2007. Does that mean it probably won't be picked up for another anime season? Generally speaking, it seems that if a season 2 isn't made of right away, that it doesn't happen. Is that right or am I off the mark? I can think of a few shows that have had more episodes made after a break like Saiyuki, Slayers, and Inuyasha, but am I right in thinking that's not the norm?

Also, do you happen to know if the US release of the series might trigger a release of the manga in the states as well?

To answer your second question first just for the hell of it: honestly I'm kind of shocked that the anime was released before the manga. That doesn't happen very often, especially in these days of scaled back anime DVDs. Sports-related anime and manga don't tend to sell very well in the US regardless, and releasing the manga would require a much smaller investment and would pose much less of a risk. But, hey, we're getting the Big Windup! anime, most likely at Aniplex's insistence, so no complainin'. Hopefully we'll get the manga too, and if the show is successful here (hint hint, buy the DVDs), there would be literally no reason not to bother releasing it.

Now, 2007 wasn't that long ago, but typically it *is* rare for a show to get picked up for a second season when it's been left alone for a year or more. Viewer tastes are fickle at best, and TV networks are rather stingy about where their development dollars go. The Big Windup! anime has garnered a ton of praise across the board (It's high on my "to watch" list myself, even though I typically avoid sports-related anime at all costs), but my guess is that the show never quite achieved the viewership it needed to support a second season. And that's not at all different from what goes on in the US. Joss Whedon's Firefly died a horrible death on TV, and even though the show's audience grew vociferously after it's cancellation, selling hundreds of thousands of expensive DVD sets in the process, a second season was never made, and most likely never will be. They did get a movie out of it, though.

And, who knows, maybe Big Windup! *will* join the hallowed ranks of those select few anime you mentioned that'll be resurrected with a second season after a few years. Hell, maybe if the DVDs sell well enough in America (again, hint hint) they'll make a friggin' movie out of it like they've done with Escaflowne and Trigun, in response to its Western popularity. It's a statistical anomaly, but if you give it enough love and support, you just might see more Big Windup! yet.

I have noticed that in pretty much all anime involving romance, the girl seems to be expected to perform services for her love interest, mainly cooking for him or making him lunch (this is often a way they try to get the guy's attention), but also things like cleaning for him, doing his laundry etc. Household chores. The guy never offers to reciprocate, ever, nor does he really do any favors for her except to let her cry on him occasionally. The girl seems to basically be expected to serve her boyfriend while he accepts it as his due, and this is supposed to be romantic---"oh gee, he graciously let me do his chores and make him dinner at my own expense, he must really love me!". Is Japan really that misogynistic, or is this just a joke? Even female characters who are supposed to be superior in status to the love interest act like this.

Oh, man, I'm totally stealing this concept for Hey, Answerfans later. Mental note.

Yeah, these so-called "relationships" are nothing more than childish, distasteful wish-fulfillment. Actual relationships require effort, toil, and compromise. Screw that noise! I want some personality-deprived blob of stereotypes to worship the ground I walk on without even having to so much as lift a finger, because talking to real women is scary and frightening! This fictional female animated character doesn't seem to mind that her "love interest" is a self-absorbed, sociopathic shut-in! I relate to that concept because I'm such a sad and callow nerdbeast who is wholly unable to relate to other people in general!

Of course, to be fair, these "relationships" in anime mostly stem from the un-ebbing tide of moe shows, harem shows, and other things based upon dating sims and the like, which are designed to appeal to the unshaven, smelly-footed Japanese Otaku demographic. I'd like to imagine that there's a cabal of shadowy figures who produce, write, and craft these cheap moe shows every year, cynically cackling to themselves as they create these insanely unrealistic portrayals of love in order to cold-heartedly steal the hard-earned money from sad Japanese hikkikomori. Laughing their demonic laughs as they walk to the bank clutching suitcases full of money, while a pudgy, balding Japanese businessman walks down the street cuddling his body pillow of a moe anime character, using it to wipe away his greasy, buttery tears.

So no, Japanese society as a whole doesn't condone or promote these crazy concepts. Not that Japan is the most enlightened civilization in the first world when it comes to women's rights, but their society looks down their noses at the Japanese Otaku lifestyle as a whole, and especially their one-sided view towards the fairer sex. I'm with you, though, in that it's disconcerting and more than a little creepy, and it's especially sad to see some of these "relationships" seep their way into more mainstream anime and manga - I've seen it gradually crawling into popular shounen manga, and even a few shoujo series, too.

But, at the same time, I'm optimistic, at least here in the West, that the fans of these shows understand that these are animated characters and that it's all pure fantasy, and real life with real relationships tends to be more frustrating and fraught with peril, but also infinitely more rewarding. I hope, anyway.

Whenever I get an email from the same person multiple times - in this case, three - I'm always curious. Usually it's a mistake, or the author just wrote back with a correction, or whatever. But in this case, I received this exact same email three different times, from the same guy, with different subject lines each time. And it's about panties.

I was watching Eureka 7, again, with a friend of mine. When we got to episode five, he mentioned how the panties and bras in the store that was the current scene didn't have black outlines, but rather outlines that were a slightly darker shade of the main color. Furthermore, they were being displayed on mannequins that had clearly black outlines. We both thought it looked like crap and agreed that we had seen it in other anime, can't name any off the top of my head. The question is this: Why is this a trend, to outline only women's undergarments in a color other then black? This, of course, doesn't really apply to any anime that doesn't use traditional black as the main outline color.

It's Hey Answerfans time! And boy howdy did you guys really dive into this week's question. Which was, for a reminder:

Kelli starts things off on a classy note:

In my quest for a quiet and unassuming weekend, I rented several random anime titles from my local video shop. The same weekend I contracted a nasty virus, rendering my body useless to society for 3 days. I cannot remember what the titles were, just a hodge podge of shows that were popular or intrigued me. Sadly, I couldn't stay awake for more than 15 minutes for any of the shows rented.

Except for one. Godannar.

Being a lifelong female, I was shocked with how easily I was captivated by this show. Slick designs, bright, quality animation, energetic characters, and non-stop action sprinkled with romance. I pushed the jiggling body parts and gratuitous camera angles out of my mind as I absorbed the story. I was on the edge of my deathbed. I crawled from my apartment and returned the disk early and immediately rented the next 2 volumes. I finished renting the show, and wanted to see it again, so I bought the series.

I talked to some friends who are anime fans, I was shy of admitting it first, but I wanted them to share the excitement I felt. I even loaned the show to one brave soul. We never really talked about it, but in reference to the show, I did heard him mumble, "Mammaries."

I flinch whenever I think of the actual content. I cringe at a glance of the packaging. Yet, when a Godannar disk enters my player, the excitement and energy overtake me once again.

Kelvin is henceforth invited to my wedding:

Oh you just had to ask that question, didn't you?

Well, I'll have you know that shame and embarrassment are very hard things to get out of me. I'm the guy who'll read a volume of Fruits Basket at the gym (an Omnibus at that, too). I've worn a Naruto headband as a belt to weddings. I can have an hour long conversation about how the hentai industry is gearing too much toward hardcore. I cried in a Starbucks watching Clannad Afterstory episode 16 on my laptop. I cried AGAIN with episode 18. Almost never will I even blush. But there is that one title, the one I swear I will never admit to even my closest friends. The one I buy from the bookstore in full trench-coat and sunglasses. The one I hide in a secret compartment in my bookshelf. I can't even speak online without promise of total anonymity.

I loved Chibi Vampire.

I pray for Cristiano's sake that she's not just paying a psychologist just to talk about anime:

it was quite hard to select only one anime or manga I'm embarassed to admit watching or reading - even excluding those picked up by mistake, sometimes I really think I should padlock my purse when entering a comics store or browsing Amazon and such. After prolonged cogitation, I will give you an anime AND a manga I probably wouldn't ever admit watching. First of all, H2O ~Footprints in the Sand~ - yes, I did shed a tear at the recent Kadokawa Picture USA collapse. For a very wrong reason, I fear.

Then, comes manga. Evangelion: Angelic Days. Seriously, what's wrong with me? I get the feeling one day I'll be talking this over with a psychologist.

Remember to please knock on Top Gun's door before entering:

If I had to discuss the most embarrassing anime series that I've ever been a fan of, I could certainly mention some of the real winners that Sci-Fi/Syfy has aired over the past year or two (Sword for Truth? Vampire Wars? M.D. Geist? Yeesh.), or the truly generic shounen series I've seen that don't have any real appeal to anyone older than the age of ten (I'm looking at you, Rave Master...), but those wouldn't really be truthful. No, what I'd probably call my most guilty pleasure would be the currently-streaming Hetalia - Axis Powers. Now I generally consider myself to be a hot-blooded young man, and I'm definitely not of the persuasion that would normally have any interest in a series that seems to be primarily intended to generate male slash-bait for fangirls. But maybe despite my better judgment, I can't help but love this series. For one, it's utterly hilarious in its dialog and characterizations, and for another, it's genuinely historically accurate, in a tongue-in-cheek stereotypical sort of way. Seeing the Baltic states cower in fear before their house-master Russia, or America constantly shoveling hamburgers into his mouth, or Italy complain about England's cooking, never ceases to crack me up. Best of all, each episode is only five minutes long, so I don't have to worry about anyone walking in on me while I'm watching France found the Modern Olympics for the sake of running around nude.

If I'm allowed one more pick, another title I could definitely mention is the comedy gem Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan. I'm not really a fan of ecchi-targeted titles in the least, but from the moment I stumbled across the ridiculously-catchy opening sequence and saw a cute little angel torturing the hell out of poor Sakura, I knew I had to see just what sort of series would start that way. And I'm very glad I did, because I wound up finding something that had me laughing my head off for minutes on end. Ridiculous American pop-culture references? Halo-removal-induced explosive diarrhea? Completely over-the-top gratuitous violence? A classmate with a monkey's head pasted on his body? It's one big ridiculous ball of fun. However, it's definitely the sort of show that makes me double-check to see that my door is firmly closed before I start watching.

Take Matt's advice and do not be That Guy, ever:

I think Please Teacher! (or Onegai Teacher if you're That Guy) will always be the most painful member of my DVD collection. I got it based on dubious internet recommendation, so now people will see it and ask what it's about. I'm forced to say things like "Well... it's about a milquetoast high school student with a Mysterious Disease who is forced to marry his busty teacher... who is from outer space. Then they run into crazy coincidences and have wacky adventures." Then I have to apologize for the medium.

20 bucks and an Amazon.com gift card and I'll make you anonymous throughout the entire internet, Tim:

Interestingly enough, I had this discussion with another slightly less otaku-ish anime fan just the past week. I've watched a fair variety of shows and read just as many mangas, from the excessively childish shows that used to come on Saturday mornings and probably still do for some reason, to the school days slice of life melodrama shows where some average guy somehow ends up with 146870 high school cuties madly in love with him, to the outrageously gory and violent, and even my fair share of hentai.

But when talking with another anime fan or on a message board, the last thing I will ever mention to having read and worse yet, liked, is Hot Gimmick. I'm a male in my early 20s and I'll usually admit to having watched crazy over the top hentai like Angel Blade before Hot Gimmick. I'll frequently laud on shows like Rumbling Hearts and Kanon and I'm not too shy to admit that the first time I watched Air I cried like a baby. Then there's Hot Gimmick…whatever it is about that show, it's just embarrassing to talk about. Sends chills down my spine just thinking about it. What's more embarrassing isn't just that I've read it, but that I obsessed over it, waited eagerly for each chapter to be released, sat on the edge of my seat when the dumb girl protagonist was finally confessed to by her long time “brother” character and I knew that she was still going to make some inevitable idiotic decision and go through the obligatory self-reflection period et cetera et cetera. I knew what would happen but didn't care, maybe it was just a strange phase in my life, maybe it had some hypnotic capabilities that took over my brain; who knows. All I know is I was practically addicted.

I'm not even sure why it's so embarrassing, it wasn't bad at all, maybe a little cliché and some of the characters were annoying but it was an engaging, and relatively well written series….I just wouldn't want hardly anyone who knows anything of anime and manga to know that I've read it. Twice. These emails are completely anonymous right…? Right??

Watson invokes Rapeman and Eiken. Those two DVDs sit alongside an entire shelf full of Stephen Baldwin movies at the Blockbuster Video in Hell:

I would answer that the most embarrassing anime I admit to watching is Eiken...except that I'm not embarrassed by it. Yes, it is stupid, ridiculous, blatantly pandering fan service trash. Your point being? No, it's not an Evangelion or a Fullmetal Alchemist, but I think it's a fun watch (cheap fun, mind you, but hey). On the other hand, if you want to talk truly reprehensible viewing, how about The Rapeman Anime Version? Belldandy im Himmel, it's hard to believe that this story was actually written by a woman (Keiko Aizaki). About the only good thing to come out of that was the name Steve Albini chose for the band he led between Big Black (does anybody know what manga was used for the covers of their last album?) and Shellac. "We don't hate vegetarians, we just think they're funny."

Rednal also has a vote for Eiken, and has informed me somewhat unintentionally that I never want to read the Eiken manga, ever. Thanks!

Only to other fans, Eiken. And I don't mean the animated version, I mean the twelve volumes of the manga I currently own. It's slightly difficult to explain why I've bought so much of it, but I'll do the best I can. Eiken is not a series that should be rated. No percents, no "D" or "F" (because that's probably what it would get), nothing like that. You see, to give the series a rating makes the assumption that you're taking it seriously, and that's the biggest possible mistake you can make with it. The art is mediocre at best, with maybe three characters having realistic body proportions (if you've only seen the animated version, you have no idea of what the series is truly like), and the story's normal at best. What Eiken does, however, is push essentially every perverted joke in anime or manga to the furthest possible extreme without becoming hentai. I like to say that it doesn't toe the line so much as push the line backwards. Despite this, the series is never truly explicit, which is perhaps the most impressive aspect about it. It goes further, without crossing the line, than a normal person would think possible before reading it. Eiken isn't a series for the casual manga fan or anybody who's intending to treat it with even the semblance of seriousness; it's something truly niche, meant to be enjoyed without worrying about minor details like why a girl who's in middle school at best has boobs as big as her torso (and I mean that literally). It's everything good and everything bad in the great manga tradition, completely ridiculous, often mindless, and oh-so-perverted. But as long as you read it for what it is and nothing more, it rarely stops being funny. And that's why it's in my collection.

Alex learned a valuable lesson in time-management:


Yeah. In case you haven't already had this series inflicted on you, the story centers around Haruo Yoshikawa, the clichéd "average guy" protagonist (Whose astounding mediocrity is bested only by his utter cluelessness), who is being romantically pursued by Ayumi Mamiya, a witch doomed to lose her powers if Haruo doesn't break her curse.

Now I'll admit I'm just as susceptible as anyone else to massive amounts of moe and "average guy" + "cute girls" interaction (If I wasn't I would have never made it through Happy Lesson), but this series... this series is the one series I hide when my friends come over. Something about the blatant clichés (A "cool" female character with a secret craving to be cute, which was eerily reminiscent of Azumanga Daioh's Sakaki, for one thing), weak storyline, and fan service that's gratuitous (Even to me!) makes me stuff this anime under the sofa the instant someone even thinks about browsing my DVD collection.

I still can't believe I sat and watched all of it.

I'll never get that time back.

Note to self - Mention Golden Boy in conversation with Kyoko:

Oh god... after much thought, I'd hafta say Goldenboy would be the one show I'm most embarassed to admit I've watched. I grew up in a Christian conservative environment, and while I'm perfectly fine with most TV-MA series, I avoid ecchi and hentai like the plague. My friend INSISTED I watch this series, only telling me it was hilarious while convieniently leaving out the show's true nature, and when I finally sat down to watch it there were multiple times I was so mortified I nearly turned the DVD player off and cussed him out for practically forcing the show down my throat. (The episode with the motorcycle girl, in particular, made me blush so hard I swear steam was coming out of my ears.)

However, the ending of every episode was so hilarious, and wrapped everything up so well, I'd forget that I was mortified a moment ago and would laugh so hard I cried. After seeing the last episode, I must admit it was totally worth watching.

It doesn't change the fact that my face turns scarlet the very, VERY few times this show is ever brought up in conversation.

Rounding out this week's embarrassing festivities, Marcelo relates his tales of pre-pubescent gender-inappropriate viewing:

Ever heard of Super Doll Licca-chan, the anime? Because yeah, nothing things make me go in complete denial of having watched something except that.

For starters, it all begins with this main problem - I was a 10 year old boy, and this show is aimed at 10 year old girls. I mean really, really aimed. So that is already the first point of the shame, but it doesn't really stop here.

The show is about a girl named Licca who finds a doll named, can you believe it, Licca. But then some kind of villains from a world of dolls (yeah yeah, don't ask) decide to kidnap and or kill (never very clear) Licca (the little girl), but then Licca's grandmother uses some kind of summoning chant to bring Licca (the doll) to real size and give her a soul to kick ass with her magical colored yo-yo (I told you there were many reasons for the shame), because apparently grandma is an ancient ruler of the doll kingdom or something. And as good Team Rocket rip-offs, the villains would just be humilliatingly defeated and come back for the next episode, when this formula would get used over and over again. After a while two other dolls show up (one being, not that surprisingly, a bishonenish guy) who are summoned by two of Licca's friends, but that doesn't change the show's formula that just keeps going and going. By the end of the series they decide to enter the doll world to talk the big villain into stop trying to kill them (yeah, that's gonna work), which we get to a little variation of the formula, but that takes nearly 50 episodes to happen and I have no idea why did I (or any human being, on that matter) kept watching the thing. After some years I found out a little bit about the show's background - apparently Licca-chan is a really popular line of dolls in Japan (well, that figures) done by Takara, and the show was just a way to promote the dolls by wasting little to no money on real writing or animating (it's like Barbie, but it's Japanese!). Astonishing.

But to be fair, as far as magical girl series go, I guess Licca-chan is fine for little girls, but, really, I don't know why did I watch. It aired on a TV channel around the afternoon, so I guess I was just too bored to try and change the channel. Or maybe, as a wise person once told me, "I was a kid and kids love anything that moves and is colorful". Doesn't change the fact that it's my greatest shame, never to be redeemed but, thankfully, to be forgotten.

Great, now that we've worked all of that awkward energy out of our system, let's move on to next week's hi-falutin' question:

Now you've got this week's question, and it's time to get answerin'.

For those of you new to Hey, Answerfans!, I'll explain the concept.

Believe it or not, I'm genuinely curious what you think.

That's right; as much as I love the sound of my own voice, I do love to listen to what other people have to say on a subject. I'm finding that over the last few years, the attitudes, reasoning and logic that today's anime fans use eludes, confuses or astounds me; I 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 do believe that's all the time and space and general cognitive abilities I've got. Unfortunately, I'm taking a week off to prepare for the oncoming onslaught of rehearsals and general responsibilities that comes with the fun of writing and starring in another stage production. Hooray for hard work for no financial compensation! See you all in two weeks!

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