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Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson,

Hi guys! Welcome to yet another Hey, Answerfans! Hoo boy!

Now, if I had the sort of foresight and planning that would normally befit a professional columnist, I probably would've remembered that this weekend is Halloween. Thusly, I would have prepared something Halloween-related during this column in the interest of being fun and enjoyable. Such as fangs photoshopped over the title image, spooky noises embedded in the background, that sort of thing. And it's not like I didn't have advance warning or anything; my roommate is pretty adamant about winning her office's Halloween decoration contest, so there's been a giant paper mache Headless Horseman sitting in my living room for the past few days. That could've been an adequate reminder.

But no! Maybe I'm just outgrowing the holiday, sad as it sounds. As a kid you get to throw eggs at the neighbors' house that you hate, plus you get candy; as an adult it's a wonderful excuse to dress like a retard and drink until you nearly die from alcohol poisoning. Neither of those hold quite the same luster as they once had. Or maybe I'm just weird. Who knows.

Answer on!

I haven't been watching anime and/or reading manga for very long. I'm very new to the hobby, about two years of watching and only, really, about a year of being a real fan. So, my question for you, Answerman, is:

How is the subject matter of yuri/yaoi viewed in Japan? Is someone that watches and/or reads yuri/yaoi material thought of negatively there or is it just viewed as another form of entertainment? Like, let's say, someone that prefers mecha or magical girlfriend; more a preference than a perversion.

Well, first of all I'd disagree with your statement that avid followers of yaoi and yuri look at it more of a "preference" than a "perversion." No, the perversion is definitely there. Maybe it's not always bubbling at the homoerotic surface, but it's absolutely the reason that most yaoi and yuri fans are reading the stuff. At some base level, the notion of two characters of the same animated gender touchin' and kissin' is titillating and exciting in some way. Now I'm not saying that all yaoi and yuri fans are eager to see some straight-up gay porno, because that's obviously not true either. Most of the best-selling yaoi titles, for example, are some of the worst gay porn I've ever seen. They don't even (censored) each other after (censored) (censored) (censored) their eager mouths! I couldn't believe it.

...anyway. Your actual question! Uh, as far as I've noticed, and from what friends of mine who've lived in Japan have told me, yaoi and yuri fans are looked at as... just about the same way as they are here. They're not viewed "negatively" per se, except in the sense that they are viewed and subsequently treated as a niche audience, not quite on the same plateau of popularity as mecha and moe fans. Yaoi fandom has become large and ubiquitous enough to where its hardcore fans now have their own nickname, 'fujoshi', which translates to 'rotten girl'. And nearly every new show out of Japan with a mostly-female cast seems to like to play in the realm of yuri stereotypes, I've noticed. So maybe yuri fans about to get their due, at least.

In the end though, it's all just entertainment and anime fans, especially the hardcore Japanese Otaku crowd, would have to be pretty hypocritical of themselves to cast harsh judgment upon their yaoi and yuri-loving brethren, so most of them seem to mind their own business about it, even if it's not their thing.

I was curious if you think Lupin the 3rd has a shot for a re-license. I am a huge Lupin the 3rd fan and I really never get a clear answer.

Oh, geez. Which Lupin license?

The manga? Tokyopop still has that.

The first TV series? Nobody's ever licensed that one before.

The second TV series? That was Geneon's baby - Who knows what's going on with that one.

The third TV series? Nobody's ever licensed that one either, and given how poorly the second series sold, it's likely to stay unlicensed.

To say nothing of the different licenses between the movies (which are split between Funimation, Geneon, and Manga Entertainment) and the TV specials and the OAVs and the pilot film and God only knows what else.

I'm going to go out on a limb here, though, and assume you're talking about the second TV series. If only because it had a TV broadcast courtesy of Adult Swim and therefore has had the widest exposure of any Lupin III-related material.

Will it get re-licensed? Who's to say, really, but I'd wager that it lies somewhere between rather doubtful and maybe possibly. The ball is in the original Japanese licensor's court, TMS Entertainment. Geneon's dead, and their scatterbrained single-volume Lupin DVDs barely made any sort of dent on the sales charts. The ratings for the show when it was aired on Adult Swim were always pretty lousy. Based on those two facts alone, that's typically a good sign that something's likely to remain re-un-licensed. If there is such a word.

However, Lupin is a character that has tremendous importance for TMS Entertainment, and they have lots to gain if they can keep the Lupin III brand-name in the global public's eye for as long as possible. Hell, they still produce a new feature-length Lupin TV special every year. And aside from that, he has sentimental value for the company: Lupin is the series that catapulted TMS to become the industry powerhouse it is today.

So, it's worth keeping an eye or an ear out; TMS might yet convince another company to take a stab at releasing the second TV series on DVD. And I'll admit, season sets of the "red-jacket" Lupin series would totally rock on the whole.

So, Astro Boy's a huge box office flop - dying in theaters in both America and Japan - what does that mean for Imagi Studio's supposedly "in-production" Gatchaman movie?

Now, just in case anybody from Imagi or Summit Entertainment are reading this column; I am sorry I didn't see Astro Boy! I wanted to, and the general consensus is that you made a pretty good flick. But, your movie opened the same day that the newest Coen brothers film, A Serious Man, went into a wider release. Whenever your movie opens the same day that I could also see a new Coen brothers film, I will not go to see your movie.

It's no secret that Imagi Studios is in a bit of financial trouble, and that they were in desperate need to make Astro Boy a hit. I imagine the mood around the Imagi offices is a pretty gloomy one these days. Luckily, though, for the time being, Gatchaman is still, tentatively, "on track" to being released in theaters next year. The key words in that past sentence, however, were "tentatively" and "on track."

All that really means is that people are still working on Gatchaman. It's not like Astro Boy had a really crappy opening weekend and everybody at Imagi packed up their things and said, "F*** it, let's go home." They're still toiling, writing, drawing, modeling and rendering away at Gatchaman, even as we speak. Whether they'll have the necessary capital to keep on working on Gatchaman, or if the film will be delayed or possibly shelved, isn't something that will manifest itself until a few months from now at the very least.

Animation takes a long time, you know. Think of it like, uh... the sun! Even if the sun totally died right NOW, it's not like we'd know about until, I think, seven minutes from now. Or something.

dark tuners an dark synchros when can i get these new cards please.

What the hell are you talking about? What the hell does that sentence even mean?

Here's a drawing of a cartoon that I made.

(I'll bet that was something about Yu-Gi-Oh cards, but that's not something I feel comfortable in investigating.)

It's Hey, Answerfans time again! Before I quite surreptitiously hand over the microphone to you, the viewing audience, here was my question from last week:

Starting us off for the week, Alex has some fightin' words about noodle-armed cartoon characters:

There are two types of wild art deviation that catch my attention while following a favorite anime series. The first is, of course, a sharp drop in animation quality presumably due to budget constraints for whatever reason (a production team may be running low on its periodic funding by the time they get to an episode, they blew the budget on a previous episode that had particularly great animation, etc.). I do notice these and find myself lamenting how sketchy the characters appear and how blandly backgrounds are drawn, but so long as the episode is a good one and not just filler used to stretch out he budget until more funding can arrive, I feel I can still manage to pay attention and forget that the main character's eyes are pointing in different directions or that footage is being reused. However if the episode content is mediocre, then I find myself taken out of the experience and am more inclined to wince at box-headed characters and inaccurately drawn symbols and outfits.

On the other hand, something I've noticed for several action series is that certain episodes are drawn in a completely different style from the rest because they contain high action scenes - the facial features become more simplistic, backgrounds aren't as sharp and all the characters in action look to me as though they've been sculpted out of warm flan, their cheeks bulging gelatinously on every other word and their limbs throwing punches and kicks in the style of old noodle-armed Disney characters. I hear people praise such art changes, as they've obviously been done to enhance action scenes somewhat, but it feels the same to me as when the art quality drops. I would be far happier seeing action scenes drawn in the normal style, albeit a bit sharper and shinier perhaps.

Kuroisekai spits on your grave (aka "Day of the Woman"):

Funnily enough, my reaction to this would be "it depends on what's going on".

Let me explain:
back then, I was a hardcore bleach fanatic. I used to download all he episodes as they came out and even tried my hand at scanlating the manga. But then, there came a time after the network decided to change the Bleach timeslot to an earlier time that the animation sorta went... down the drain. Allow to digress: As an avid reader/translator of the manga, I know the story of the series more or less a few weeks ahead of the anime release. And since the horrible bount arc was over, everybody was looking forward to the next non-filler episode. But the said episode featured Ichigo and Orihime spitting saliva instead of blood after a near-fatal hit.

Wait.. What? How could you DO this to me? Obviously, I was surprised, disgusted, and outraged at first, before I rationalized "must be the new timeslot". But then, it became one of the justifications (aside from the fact that I actually need to cut down my DL's) for me to quit collecting the series since I read the manga anyway (i.e. "The animation will probably suck anyway, so I'll just stick to the manga).

After high school, my anime viewing habits reached a sort of peak after discovering a boatload of streamed episodes. Most of which were coherent animation-wise, which kinda led me to forget about the whole travesty that was Ichigo-spitting-craploads-of-spit-instead-of-blood. That's when I was hooked to this title called Code Geass. After watching the first season on streams, I decided to wait for the second season to come out and do the same thing I did with Bleach; collect every episode as they came out. And so I did, and after each episode leaving me jaw dropped and/or in tears at the sheer "awesomeness" of what was going on, I quickly neglected some of the facts fellow fans at LJ frequently pointed out, often with much sarcasm as "THIS EPISODE IS FULL OF QUALITY" and "SUZAKU LOOKS LIKE A TWELVE-YEAR-OLD DREW HIM". Case in point: I didn't care. Code Geass was much too awesome in its to look at the tiny details and see if somehow they could ruin the ride. Something that I think was missing in the Bleach animation that I didn't appreciate (since I knew of what was going to happen beforehand).

But really, if I see a glaring flaw in the animation, it probably would tick me off... That is, if I notice it beyond my watery eyes.

L.M. goes to the MOBA in MA for this week's AF:

Well, I would like to state first that I am an artist (and quite the purveyor of the comic yarn), and also a details person. If I'm looking at cosplay pictures, and somebody's wig color is just a tick off, I'm screaming and pointing at my computer screen with fervid indignation. And then I get over it. And vow that, were I to make the same costume, I would not commit the same mistake. So naturally, if a series or movie that I love suddenly becomes a pile of garbage and stick figures, I notice. And it bugs me. Period.

The only exception to this rule would be something like Furi Kuri, where a temporary lapse in art quality is purposeful (and for comic relief), or Crayon Shin-Chan, which is just… the guy didn't even try in the first place. I watch it for the jokes (though the crappiness is amazingly consistent). And even when a series/movie degrades as the story progresses (I can't think of any off the top of my head right now), overloaded with Henshin sequences, stock footage, and incessant, unnecessary re-caps (lookin' at you, Inuyasha), I might get over it if I like the series enough.

What I cannot ignore is a major discrepancy between the art in book form and the art in animation form. I love, love, LOVE D.N.Angel and Angel Sanctuary. Even if you have no interest in the storyline, they're worth buying for the drawings alone. They're gorgeous! And of course, I made the mistake of watching the anime (or the OVA, in the case of Angel Sanctuary). It's unspeakable… how badly the animators butchered the art.

There are several series' that are better-looking animated than they are as manga, but this… The art is so bad that the series' are unwatchable. Forget the sudden veer—this kind of thing grates on my nerves from the start. There are many others that have suffered (and will in the future) this very injustice. I think the creators should sue. That's slander.

Ultimately, in my heart of hearts, I want to just chalk it all up to laziness, and not some MOBA* czar that laughs maniacally while twirling his mustache as we are forced to endure the google eyes and messed up hand-legs that were once delicate works of artistic genius. And I scream and cry—Howl, Howl… there, but for the grace of God, goes my favourite series… right into the turlet.

*Museum of Bad Art, Boston MA.

Oh Matt, you and your "reality":

Animation quality veering left and right (aka between good and bad) in anime doesn't really bother me as much. The reality is that most studios have limited budgets and deadlines, which can effect the animation quality of an episode, or parts of a movie. There is nothing that can change that.

Personally, my favorite animes sometimes suffer from animation quality control and look awkward to boot. Slayers suffered it, Ultimate Muscle did too (shut up it was a fun anime). Entertainment value is far more important then grade A animation, but looking good is always a big plus.

Crappy joke: Sakura no Miko talks about Shion no Ou? No!

Normally, I never notice animation quality, aside from a vague, “oh, this was clearly made in the 80s” or “wow, this is really pretty” sort of way. There was one instance, however, when the drop in quality was so egregious, so mind-boggling, so bad that I was floored.

The last episodes of Shion no Ou.

Let's set this scene a bit: the lead character is a professional shougi (Japanese chess) player. It's the last round of a tournament, and she's playing against the master. Not only that, this is the first time a mixed-gender competition has been allowed, the first time a woman could take the top prize against a man. And, to top it off, we're just about to learn who murdered her parents when she was a child. It's dramatic. It's full of revelations, it's…

…got totally screwy animation. Perspective is thrown out the window. People's eyes and faces change proportion at random. Lots of weird angles. An important flashback covered with this fuzzy, warping filter. A sudden zoom-in to the murderer's leering face ends up eliciting laughs, not menace, because his head is too wide. The dramatic confrontation between two brothers features these tiny heads on big bodies, and their eyes — which are usually the crux of emotion — are barely visible. It wasn't even a constant loss of quality, just random moments that threw you out.

True, maybe this is supposed to be artsy — everything's going crazy, people might be going crazy, and so the animation reflects that. If that was the intent, it failed. Apparently they changed directors, too. But, sadly, I was just left there thinking, “wow, this weird animation is killing the dramatic tension.”

Zachary is about MORE than just the eye-candy, ladies:

I mean sure, it kinda disturbs the flow of how I was experiencing it thus far, but I RARELY watch an anime for the sole purpose of looking for eye-candy.

But if there was a situation where I would at least frown or get pissed would be when I saw Welcome to the NHK and Samurai 7. Both of the inconsistencies happened when nothing serious was going on, but it planted a seed of fear. I wondered if it would be the last of if it would continue. When I watch something that blows me away, I hate to find a reason it shouldn't and that's all it did: Scare me into wondering if the animation drop would plague the experience during the moments that count. In the end, it wasn't a big issue. Gonzo usually make great animes, with sometimes even greater art and animation, but they do occasionally have drops, but it hardly ever ruins the entire show.

So to re-answer what you asked: No. While I'm not sure how many people care how much an anime looks, I don't. If an anime I'm watching has an unbelievable plot, then my mind will wander out to find more excuses to appreciate it, like the music or the VA, etc.

Man, Bleach keeps getting brought up for this question. Lisa, tell me what YOU think about Bleach's occasionally goofy animation:

I immediately reacted to the question about varying anime quality within a series and the effect on the quality of the watching experience. Sigh. One of my favourite anime series is Bleach and, as anyone who keeps up with Bleach season after season (after season...) can tell you, the animation quality varies wildly- from episode to episode, sometimes. To the point where flashbacks will look weird, because the Ichigo in the scene where he finally defeats Zaraki in Soul Society (an oft-used flashback) doesn't look much like the Ichigo you just flashbacked-from :( Yes, it's dreadfully distracting (especially if it's a serious scene and the animation difference makes you giggle). Two things allow me to persevere: 1) the story is great, and 2) I really prefer the manga to the anime anyway :) Kubo Tite is a brilliant illustrator and there's no way his style would carry-over to the animation anyway. So, why do I watch the anime anyway? I'm a huge fan of Japanese voice actors and I love to see what they do with the characters. It adds a whole dimension to the Bleach experience for me.

Wesley, however, has recently "dropped" Bleach. Insert appropriate pun here:

When the animation quality of a show veers off track, it takes me out of the experience a lot. Naruto and Bleach would be my best examples. Obviously with shows of that nature, they tend to animate early and/or important scenes very well. Then, as time goes on, lesser scenes and filler tends to look like a sequence of still pictures with occasional movement (sometimes borderline motion comic quality). This is a fairly large interuption to the flow of a show, especially right after one of those big important well animated scenes. The contrast is like being splashed with cold water. Regardless, if the show is good enough, I'll usually keep watching it. That said, I recently dropped Bleach. Off the top of my head, I can't think of too many other shows I've watched where this has happened. Most productions go for consistency from what I've seen. This doesn't mean good or bad, just... consistent all the way through. This makes things easier for me, even if the show is clearly animated on a budget. I am currently enjoying El Cazador De La Bruja, and in the animation department it is certain no Cowboy Bebop, Moribito, or Soul Eater. The so-so animation is tolerable because of that consistency.

Hang on just a moment there, Jean, because the next response might just have something you'd like to see:

I think I'm thinking more of drawing quality than actual animation, but I figure, without the drawings, there's nothing to animate, no matter how few frames they're working with. Or you can chuck this for being off topic.

I remember way back when Voltron was being shown on tv, and the dialogue was telling us that this guy was Sven, even though he looked different, but presumably that was because of having been in the hospital (and/or captured? can't remember why he was meant to have been away) so long. And I remember thinking that someone's drawing ability had gone way down, because Sven had gotten kind of ugly.

Of course, that was long before the Internet, and the widespread knowledge that it was really Shirogane's brother. The point is, I complained that Sven was ugly, but it didn't bother me enough to make me wonder why. I was just happy to have him back on the cast.

Nowadays, I'm always just amazed that the animators manage to get everyone looking pretty much the same all the time. Back in the Sailor Moon days, some people could tell which director did which episode, because the people always looked different. Recognizable, but different. Rounder heads or weird proportions or whatever it was. I never really got the hang of distinguishing the differences myself.

Also, I heard that sometime in Naruto, there's some bit where some poor guy forgot to draw in Naruto's head, and that is the sole reason I am (very slowly) making my way through the notorious filler episodes. I figure it's got to be in there somewhere, and probably I could just look this up somewhere and just watch that episode, but that wouldn't be nearly as much fun. Admittedly, since I tend to fall asleep watching Naruto quite a bit, I could have passed it without noticing already.

Hey, b3causethenight? You mind helping out Jean? Thanks dude:

As long as the animation doesn't turn to this:

...then I really do not notice.

Hey, it's like... Naruto is the Headless Horseman! And this column, it's like, Sleepy Hollow! Which makes me Ichabod Crane! And I am a skinny person! Yes.


What is next week's question? Next week's question is:

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.

And that is about all that I have either the time or the endurance for this week. I'll be back next time, attempting to subdue the human race with my mighty robot claw. And also to answer your questions. So send 'em in! Please! See you next week!

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