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Hey, Answerman! 2010 SUPER EDITION

by Brian Hanson,

Hi everyone! Sorry about the unexplained, sort of random absence last week. It's the holidays, and all. Sometimes your family's flights depart a little ahead of schedule. Or sometimes the "schedule" that they tell you turns out to be completely fabricated, and you have to leave for the airport several hours earlier than expected.

Ah, Christmas. So anyway, it's now officially 2010, or it will be when this column goes live, and I've been writing this thing now for the last year and change. It's been completely surreal and wonderful, and I just really quickly wanted to take a brief moment to thank Zac, Chris, and Justin here at ANN for having the gumption to pass the Answerman torch to me, and everybody who's been reading the verbal spew I've been spouting since 2008.

Enough reflection! On to the questions:

Hey, Answerman,

I was wondering if you'd be able to shed some light on an argument I've been a witness to, regarding the manga/anime To Love-Ru. Specifically, its title. Now, it's reasonably well known how that title originates from the fact that in Japanese, "love" is pronounced "RABU," and "trouble" is "TORABURU." Hence: TROUBLE --> TO-RA-BU-RU --> TO-LOVE-RU. Makes perfect sense and is perfectly straightforward to pronounce, if your native language is Japanese. If it's English, the pun on two English words falls apart completely. The title being written with Latin letters in the original version doesn't help; if anything, seems to confuse the issue even more.

So for those of us who have to choose between "l" and "r" and between "v" and "b," how the hell are we supposed to pronounce this thing? "Trouble?" "Tlovel," rhyming with shovel? Fake a really bad Japanese accent? Separate the pun out as "Love Trouble?" "Twubble," or "Twuu-Wubble" if you wanna go for a Princess Bride reference? Something else I haven't thought of? Or should we just say "screw it" and pronounce it how it looks (keeping in mind that the "to" and "ru" are Japanese phonemes)? I'm starting to think that maybe ANY way of pronouncing it is incorrect unless you're Japanese. Is there any official stance on the matter?

Okay, here's the thing. You are an American, and you speak English. The title of the show is "To Love-Ru." That's... mostly English. But it's right there. Just say it like you would in English, and you'll be ok. Trust me. If you actually pronounced the show as "To-Ra-Bu-Ru" people would probably think you had your mouth packed with gauze, or that you had Tourette's. Or possibly that you're making some racist stab at Japanese people.

Not to be overtly cynical here (ha), but it's a big personal pet peeve of mine when people try to sound like they're "respecting the original intent" of the movie or book or TV anime show or whatever by trying to pronounce the original, foreign name. Even when the name is just fine. Like saying "Il Buono!, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo" instead of just saying "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." Or "Le Comte de Monte-Cristo" instead of "The Count of Monte Cristo." Or whatever the Japanese title for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is, which I can't remember off the top of my head because it is long and complicated. Granted, "To Love-Ru" is a far cry from of those things, but there have been goofier-sounding English titles for anime shows, and we've managed just fine so far.

Hey Answerman,

Some of my fellow anime/manga fans (albeit few) have repeatedly stated they don't watch American cartoons at all because they are coarse, poorly drawn, boring, etc. and in cases like Nickelodeon's Avatar just plain rip offs. In addition I have recently finished Japanamerica by Roland Kelts where he also states American cartoons are currently inferior to Japanese anime because of quality and quantity of material available to all fans. Now granted a few fans and one author aren't the say-all-be-all and everyone is entitled their opinion but their reasoning seems a bit extreme. I would like to hear your thoughts.

Man, this keeps coming up! Is there any more room left to even debate this issue? I assumed that by now people were all of the opinion that, like, whether or not anime is better than American cartoons is just, like, your opinion, man. It's apples and oranges, it's nonesense, so forget it, it's Chinatown.

Going back to Chris Beveridge's original article that started this whole mess, his "9 Reasons Anime is Better Than Western Animation" thing, understand that on our own humble ANNCast, Chris sort of shyed away from the notion that he actually thinks anime is better than western animation in it's entirety. It's an impossible argument to make, not to mention logically unwinnable. Especially in recent years, as feature-length animated films from the US have made such staggering leaps in quality. It's hard for me to name a few anime TV shows, movies, or anything that I've enjoyed as much as WALL-E or even The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Now, saying that anime is, by and large, better than western animated TV shows is something else entirely. I think the bulk of Japan's animated TV output largely outclasses TV shows made here in the US. But I think people are confused about what "western animation" actually implies. When you say "western animation," you're not just talking about Disney movies and Family Guy. When you say "western animation," you're talking about those two things and everything else. Which includes a veritable assload of things most people have never seen, that are amazing. I just recently had the pleasure of watching Don Hertzfeldt's newest short film, "I Am So Proud Of You," and it was incredible. The last anime show I truly, thoroughly enjoyed was probably Eden of the East, and even that doesn't come close to achieving what Hertzfeldt achieved in only a 22-minute short film. Unfortunately, it's an animated short film, so virtually no-one has seen it unless they go seeking it out.

And therein lies their argument; of the western animation that they've been exposed to and what they've seen does not even come close to approaching what "Western Animation" really is. It's perfectly logical for me to say that anime is "better" than the entire history of American Film if I've seen every Miyazaki movie and the only American films I've seen are direct-to-DVD "American Pie" sequels. But even so, it's an incredibly ignorant and foolish thing to say.

So! Let me just put this whole issue to bed, once and for all. I'm kind of done talking about it, honestly, because it doesn't seem like anything I say, here, on an anime column talking about anime, will have much sway or importance on the matter. And the matter itself, to be frank, isn't terribly important. The artists who create anime and western animation don't lose sleep over the argument, and I won't either.

I'm just going to sit around and enjoy the prodigous output of both. I think that's healthy.

Hey Answerman,

Long time reader, first time writer. I have an oddly subjective question to ask you: Is FLCL still relevant?

Let me backtrack. Whenever I'm asked what the best/my favorite animes are, I always say something to the effect of "blah, blah, hard to choose. Blah, probably Eva, Bebop, FLCL, FMA blah." Since I first saw FLCL (on those horrible 2 episode per disc things that had a half year wait between releases), it changed how I felt about anime. I loved her, and I felt she loved me back. We chatted, we philosophized, we cried, we lived. I still love FLCL to death (to death!), but I also understand the 'flavor of the week' mentality that can prevail in today's anime culture. For every anime with staying power like Evangelion there are literally hundreds of others that people will watch, enjoy, rant about, and never think about again (I'm looking at you Outlaw Star). In any case, is the style, effect, symbolism, and overall great story that makes up FLCL still a piece that people think about? Has it been flushed down the proverbial anime drain, and I have tragically been caught in a past life doomed to become the bitter anime fan, angry at every new anime because it will never be the Macross that I fell in love with so long ago?

I totally still think FLCL is still relevant. FLCL arrived on the market like a small, unnoticeable thunderstorm, until it passed over the low-pressure-front known as Adult Swim and became a full-fledged typhoon, wrecking everything and everyone in its path. Everybody saw it, just about everybody loved it, and it's one of a very small percentage of anime that, gasp, crossed over into the mainstream. Even non-anime fans loved it! They were forced to strain and painfully admit that the entirety of anime wasn't about schoolgirls being raped by tentacled Pokémon.

And I think that that fact makes it even more relevant today. FLCL successfully crossed over to a broad, general audience - an audience that doesn't care about categorizing the animation they watch as anime, or shounen, or shoujo, or moe, or anything like that. General audiences just enjoy the good stuff that is presented to them. That hasn't happened... Christ, since FLCL.

If anything, I'd say that FLCL's 6-episode running time is both the series' greatest asset, and its biggest detriment. Had the show gone any longer than 6 episodes, it wouldn't have been able to keep up the pitch-perfect pacing and the incredibly satisfying ending. It's a complete detriment though, because it's awfully hard to keep only 6 episodes of something in the public eye for very long; It came, Adult Swim ran those 6 episodes into the ground and Synch-Point was able to stave off bankruptcy for a little while by charging people 100 bucks for the whole thing, everybody loved it, and now it's gone.

I hope that FLCL's enormous success in America, relative to it's mediocre reception in Japan, would prove a valuable lesson to the anime industry in both the US and Japan. Shockingly enough, if you make a short but incredibly sweet show with downright amazing animation, directed with a singular vision, and with an actual, honest-to-God ending, audiences in the US will eat it up... even if it falls flat with Japanese fans.

We're skipping over Flake of the Week because, surprisingly, the Holidays have seemingly made people a little more sane. For the first time ever.

So, let's move on to Hey, Answerfans! Here was the question I posed on a dark night in December:

Starting us out in 2010's first Hey, Answerfans! Is an Irate Englishwoman:

Anything that isn't a bloody shonen action title that lives far beyond it's sell-by date, that's what. Is it about a boy that wants to get stronger? Does it have a cast of enough characters to populate a small third-world country? Will it still be airing long after you've lost the will to live? Then congratulations, it will be licensed and released before you can say "orange jumpsuits don't promote stealth in ninjas".

The sub-genres that don't get a look in are the thoughtful, beautiful, slow-paced ones that are often no more than slice-of-life shows mixed with a bit of fantasy that remind us why life is worthwhile. The fact that a fan-favourite like Aria was barely promoted and released as a sub-only is proof of this unfairness (though some might consider it a blessing...). A gorgeous little anime that should be known to the world for its pure, unadulterated awness - Asatte no Houkou - will probably never see the light of day in the US or UK simply because the industry don't think enough fans will buy it. Even gems like AIR and Kanon only got a look-in because they stemmed from questionable dating sim games and border somewhat on the harem genre, so ADV rubbed their hands together and hoped to draw in the horny fanboys. Never mind the magic and mystery, as long as there's panty shots and cute catchphrases and plenty of moe, eh?

ef: a tale of memories is one of the most stunning things I've ever seen (not just in anime, I'm talking EVER) easily comparable with the emotional and visually-awing works of Makoto Shinkai. And yet another year goes by, and no sniff of a license. What annoys me most is that when titles like this do slip through and are given a chance - the masterpiece that is Haibane Renmei, to name just one - everybody screams its praises. Perhaps it's not a best selling merchandise cash-cow like Bleach, fair enough, but no-one who has seen it can speak a bad word about it. Yet still, frustratingly enough, the market never seems to open up to let more of it's kind pass through. Why? WHY?

Thanks for listening to my rant. I'm not saying I don't love the huge, long-running shonen shows too (I personally have a very nostalgic soft spot for Yū Yū Hakusho, and I happen to think Gintama is hysterical) but it does annoy me that the word 'anime' seems to be synonymous with them while the shorter, subtler and more tender examples of the genre get swept under the carpet.

Josh, you're speakin' my language:

while i don't know if it's really a sub genre i would love to see more "experimental/alternative/underground" stuff in the states. it seems like far too many comics can be summed up far too easily these days, fitting neatly into a genre for a specific demographic and it's really killed alot of the exitement i used to have when picking up a new series. not that there's anything wrong with the mainstream, i mean - i'd happily take a bullet or two for Eiichiro Oda, but it's like deja vu half the time while checking out something new. publishers should realize that there are plenty of older fans out here waiting for something inspiring with a bit more depth; and one of these days all the snot-nosed young'uns will grow up (i hope) and it would be nice if there was some material out there to grow with them instead of letting them grow out of the medium. i'm half-joking kids, but really we wouldn't have Evangelion, anything by CLAMP, FLCL, hellsing or many others if it weren't for passionate artists who don't answer to editors or survey results. of course i'm using them as exaples because they're popular but i'm talking more about artists like Yoshiharu Tsuge, Hajime Ueda and Yuko Tsuno.

honestly i don't know what could be done about it but i'd like to see Best of Garo collections on shelves, a stateside Mindgame release, and maybe a quarterly for showcasing original dojinshi (it's not all fan-fic and porn). just a few offerings that don't fall into the usual trappings please.

Monica goes quite well off topic here, but fight on, anyway:

Since I actually have no idea what on Earth a "shrift" is, I think I'll re-interpret your lovely reader's question to mean either "short shift" or "short end of the stick", and go from there (*wink*). That being said, I believe the penultimate answer here is...well, to be perfectly frank, it would have to be ALL OF THEM. This goes back to fundamental underlying - and quite insidious - difference in the way that Americans, as a whole, have been raised to view the animated medium. The best way to describe this difference is this: I think we all know that the first animated feature film in America was Walt Disney's "Steamboat Willie", starring the annoying but oh-so-beloved-by the-American-majority Mickey Mouse, in 1929 - which had Mickey involved in some silly chase down a river, running from a bad guy, who's name I don't even remember, so overshadowed is he in King Mickey's great shadow. In stark contrast, the very first full length animated feature in Japan was a re-telling, using cute little animated creatures, of the events that took place at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 - the second of only three times in history that American has been attacked on its own turf (the American Revolution, Pearl Harbor, and 9/11). When you consider this, it isn't too hard to understand how come it's so darned hard for the adults in this country to accept animation as a medium to be taken seriously. I must warn you that while it may seem that my letter has strayed completely off-topic, I assure you now that every point I make from here out is in support of my answer to the original question asked, the answer I gave just a moment ago - that it is, in fact, a question of what anime series HAS been taken seriously in the American market at all.

I will begin by stating that as for me, I consider anime & the animated medium to be one of the greatest mediums for social commentary in the 21st century, and the amount of potential impact to just waiting to be unleashed upon the World, once fully accepted as such is really quite phenomenal. However, this will never happen if a few things don't change about its current state.

1) FANS: PLEASE: stop arguing about the Sub vs. Dub issue - and start understanding that the Dubs are absolutely necessary to see anime spread to the it has in Japan. We have all seen the ridiculous amounts of capital the big studios are willing to invest in live-action adaptations - and the half-witted, half-baked CRAP that ends up coming out as a result. So why aren't they even trying to make halfway decent animated series? Because they don't believe it will make them any money - and that's because every time they do some research on the popularity of adult-targeted animation in the US, the only kind of positive comments that they are seeing on anything currently in production in the US are in the rude adult comedy genre (The Simpsons, South Park, Futurama, Aqua Teen Hunger Force - and the list goes on & on & on). I'm not saying people shouldn't like those series, I'm just saying if that's all their data can define as popular, then that's all they are going to back with their money.

A couple of a points about the Dubs that many people don't consider when they are wholesale shooting them down like a hill-billy at a duck shoot: it is not only "stupid people who can't keep up with reading the subs" or "little kids" who need good Dubs of anime. There are people who cannot see well enough to read subtitles - would you insist that all blind or sight-challenged people are automatically stupid? I THINK NOT. Then you must also consider the fans-who-don't-know-they-are-fans yet -- I am a 36 year old female who did not start watching anime until about 7 years ago, and that was as a by-product of my parallel love for video-games. However, due in part to my medical situation, I have had an inordinate amount of time to catch up, and am able to watch an estimated 10-30+ hours per week of anime anytime I like. But I am essentially alone in this; none of my friends were into anime when I began watching it. They are now, however - and do you honestly think I got a bunch of thirty-something year olds to sit through even a single 20-minute episode of anything animated that was subtitled? NO WAY. I drew them in by getting them to watch an episode of DUBBED anime that I knew was to their taste (something I happen to be very good at reading in people), and they would generally ask me if they could borrow the series, then for another title suggestion, et cetera, et cetera, and so on. Ok - only one last chastisement to the fans (who really should have realized all this on their own in the 1st place) regarding the Sub vs. Dub issue: Why is it that you all have SUCH a hard time seeing the simple fact that getting your work translated into multiple languages around the World is nothing less than a feather in the creator's/director's/production team's cap, something to be bragged about, and as FANS we who love that work we SHOULD NOT detract or defame that honor by running around tearing it apart? Books & movies get translated into 1000s of languages and they are quite proud of this - anime fans have GOT to be the only ones who could BE so short-sighted as to not see that the spread of your most cherished series should be praised - even if you don't particularly like it. If you have an issue with how the Dub was handled for a particular series, gripe to the people who can change them - the ADR studios - but don't condemn Dubs as a whole, you are just defeating your own purpose that way.

2) ENGLISH DUB STUDIOS: the majority of the fault lies squarely here - whole it IS up to the American public to sway and shift the popular vote, the entity with the most power to change the current status quo is comprised of essentially three main companies, from smallest to largest: Ocean Studios, Bang Zoom! Entertainment, and with overwhelming domination, Funimation. After much research and contemplation on the entire issue at hand, I have come to the conclusion that there are three MAJOR flaws in the way that things are handled now:

2A) TRANSLATION: the most prolific gripe you can & will read about in any thread regarding North American releases of any Japanese anime series is that the script was "totally changed" when it was translated; that it was "dumbed down" (this issue here is the one that I, personally, take greatest offense at). Although the series itself is a bit dated, I'm going to use a moment from "Jubei-chan: The Secret of the Lovely Eye-Patch" as my exemplar here: in one scene, Koinosuke asks Nanohana what it feels like to become Yagyu Jubei, and in the English dub she replies, " It's painful," This is rather vague, and doesn't really convey much feeling. However, in the subbed version, the line is: "It feels like having a heavy period." WHOA. This, coming from a 13yo usually bright-and-chipper girl - who, in the scene, won't even turn around to say it - has real impact, and says all that needs to be said about the burden she bears. So - consider all of it: the character is not facing the camera (no lip flaps to match), the importance of the scene (Nanohana is resigning as the bearer of the Eye Patch), and the disposition of the scene (it was right before a fade-out, so no worries about running out of time) WHY DID THEY CHANGE THE LINE SO DRASTICALLY? Is there some sort of censorship I am unaware of on talking about a girl's period on American television? For the most part, anime fans happen to be one of the most intelligent groups of people you could ask for, so give us some credit - besides , we fell in love with the scripts the way they WERE, not with your simplified "Americanized" versions, understand?

2B) Speaking of "Americanizing", I'm not usually one to tell artists how to ply their crafts, but I'm hearing an alarming amount of "...I don't know..." in American voice-actor commentaries regarding their characters these days. What the heck do you mean you don't know? In every other field of performance, it's par for the course for course for artists to study those who have played the roles before them - if for no other reason than to not duplicate those performances - but in this case, it would do many of these voice-actors no harm (and noticeable benefit, in some cases) to really get a handle on how they should be handling the development of their character overall - that way there would be more overall depth to their character, and this would resonate right from the start, as it does with the Japanese casts. Sorry to be so harsh, but it is what is missing from American voice acting, point-in-fact.

2C) Last one, but it's a doozy: it takes too long from original broadcast end date to the release of the North American DVD for anyone here to get excited about anime. Let me just put it straight to one VERY good example: the Japanese DVD Limited Edition release of Evangelion 1.0: You Are {Not} Alone came out in April 2008, and the regular edition followed one month later. In October of 2008, just 6 months later, the German Steelbook, the Italian Limited Edition, and the Italian regular edition were released. In May 2009, the Japanese DVD and Blue-Ray disc: Rebuild of Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone Digital Master Version were released. Has anyone noticed something MISSING here???? Yupyup! The NORTH AMERICAN RELEASE DID NOT COME OUT UNTIL NOVEMBER 17, 2009 (which is seven days later than the originally expected date of November 10, 2009 - betcha isn't think anyone would notice, didya Funimation?). Can SOMEONE please tell me just WHAT in the heck took them so long? WHAT ALWAYS TAKES THEM SO FREAKING LONG????!!! And why do they think I will still want to spend what little money I have on stuff that came out a year and half ago? AAAAHHHH!!!!! All that being said - I just watched the trailer for the released Evangelion 1.01 from Funimation, and it does look quite well done - as well it should, don't you think? Took them long enough....and I still don't buy for a second that it had to take THIS long, and with no announcements?

There is one bright shining star that seems to really stand out time and again in the dub scene - and that is Ocean Studios. I think most fans are of the same mind in agreeing that the penultimate English dub at this point in time, and the series that has been the least of the "short shrift" when it was adapted for North American release, is Geneon's Black Lagoon. I've even heard Japanese fans of the series say that the English dub of this series is better than the original Japanese track - part of this is due to the fact that the script itself is very American in nature (very informal language, tons of swearing, an international character set), but credit should be given where credit is due -- the folks at Ocean Studios really knocked it out of the park with this one. Every time I hear Patricia Drake's subtle and scary "you-should-be-making-big-plans-for-moose-and-squirrel" Balalaika or Dean Redman's portrayal of the smartest Black man to ever grace an anime series ever, Dutch, I am reminded of just how possible it is for an American studio to turn out a truly great anime. I can only pray that Funimation has ears as well-tuned as the rest of us, and doesn't totally screw up the dub of the imminent 3rd season of Black Lagoon. My hopes aren't especially high though, as they are the reigning superpower, so they apparently feel they can do no wrong. Ironically, it is this same voice-actors alliance that turned out the above-mentioned "Jubei-chan: The Secret of the Lovely Eye-Patch", however - I try not to think about it too hard...

Basically, if we, as fans, don't tell them what we are thinking, they won't know. This also goes for Hollywood and the major broadcast networks, people. If you want anime to be taken more seriously - then YOU have to get more serious about it. Stop being so convinced of your own ineffectiveness - just how much can one person do? A LOT. Especially if one person is joined by another and another and another, until there are so many "just one persons" that they realize they'd be fools to ignore us. So even if you only send one email, or respond to one website survey/questionnaire/feedback page, it's still some small effort - and who knows you might get in the habit of releasing some pent up frustrations that way - but do try to be smart about it - they won't read ANYTHING rude or pointless.

Tips on finding feedback links, website surveys, questionnaires: go to websites for companies like Funimation, Bandai, Bang Zoom, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Syfy, etc: and look for a link that says "CONTACT US" at the bottom of the page; sometimes it's on their FAQ page, or on their BOARDS page. Bang Zoom!'s website is down right now, but I'm sure if you sent your email to the address they have showing on their main page in the interim they'd still get it. Thanks for reading and GANBARE YO!!


This used to be such an easy question, but I'm not so sure that's the case now. I mean, a few years ago the obvious answer would have been bishoujo dramas in the vein of Air or KGNE, but those are crossing the Pacific with some regularity now. (save for the lack of ef) More recently the answer might have been "purer" slice-of-life series, but along came Aria and now we see Hidamari on the way, so it looks like that little niche may no longer be ignored moving forward.

So, what's being left out now? It might actually be the intellectual stuff. By this, I don't necessarily mean shows that display intelligence whilst having plenty of face-value appeal, like NGE or Death Note. Rather, I'm talking about the Lains and Kino's Journeys of the past few years, where the artistic/intellectual angle is the centerpiece, and most of what the series has to offer. The "pretentious" stuff, if you want to think of it that way. Of course, as with the aforementioned duo, we did use to see these kinds of shows come over more often than not. However, in recent years Mushi-Shi and Phoenix are about the only such anime off the top of my head that made it here, greatly outnumbered by those left behind - Kaiba, Shigofumi, Kemonozume, Zettai Shonen, perhaps Bokurano or Dennou Coil, etc. (okay, Shigofumi was licensed, but quickly nixed/forgotten)

Can this be fixed? Probably not. I mean, it's not hard to see why these sorts of shows aren't licensed; they don't even have "mainstream" appeal amongst anime fans, let alone actual mainstream appeal. (heck, for Kaiba all it takes is one screenshot to see that) In many of these cases it just doesn't make a ton of sense for a company to buy the license. Then again, not too long ago I would have said the same thing about Aria, so who knows?

You're a forward-thinking gentleman, Thomas:

The anime and manga series I feel get the short shrift the most are seinen or more adult titles. And in this case, it's not the licensees that are ignoring them: it's largely the American audiences. Mature, dramatic titles like Emma or Human Crossing simply don't get the audience they deserve. I would hope the TV version of Monster does well, but from my own observations, Monster was not that successful as a manga. Hiroki Endo's mature, political manga Eden - It's an Endless World! has been critically acclaimed, and yet Dark Horse repeatedly delays its release schedule, simply because it doesn't sell. As to what can be done to remedy this, I think the answer is to try and market this material to non-anime fans. I believe many Western comics fans would find this material to their liking: I have introduced series like Monster, Eden, and Berserk to comics fans, and they really enjoy what they see. It's always a risk to try a new market, but in this situation, it may be necessary to reach beyond the core anime market.

Annachu wants some mahou-shoujo up in here:

It's been awhile since I have sent any response to Answerfans but this week's topic just made me have to throw in my two or three cents. Most would probably immediately disagree with me but I think that the "Magical Girl" subgenre has been somewhat ignored or just not handled well at all over here. Now I know people would immediately shout that Sailor Moon is everywhere but the genre as a whole is what I'm talking about, not one little slice of the pie. Most magical girl shows are brought over and butchered to what we as Americans would consider suitable viewing for little girls. Most forget or don't even care that most audiences for these shows are much older or even men for that matter.

Sailor Moon has been treated somewhat better a few years back with ADV releasing the uncut boxed sets. That was a great step in the right direction; the new dubs are not worth cleaning up my dog's waste in the yard with. Where they fell short however is the ignoring the Stars season altogether, mainly because of the Starlights and their "situation". But most otaku know that. But other series have not been given any consideration. Mermaid Melody: Pichi Pichi Pitch for example. This series was picked up to be released then dropped quickly. Tokyo Mew Mew is another example of the butching job that was done to make the show acceptable; no attempt at uncut subbed version was ever made.

There are some magical girl series besides Sailor Moon that have come over successfully but they could be counted on one hand. Most are either stopped, dropped, or ignored. Now I'm not an idiot; I know that most anime companies just do not see a profit margin worth bringing some series over. But it could not hurt to bring some over and simply release them as subbed sets only. This obviously saves the studios money and saves some of us sub-only people some sanity. (Could you even IMAGINE Mermaid Melody dubbed? I would rather pour boiling oil straight into my ears...) Will it ever happen? Probably not...but at least put some thought into it. Also, writing this help fill in 20 minutes of this boring ass afternoon. :)

Hell if I know either, Elaine:

A quick answer, at least in the manga market, is “josei”. This is closely followed by “yuri”.

Both josei and yuri already have a lot going up against them – even in Japan, these sub-genres aren't very popular. You also have broad societal changes in both the US and Japan which not only are driving more women into the workforce (which prima facie would make these two genres seem to gain popularity) but also making women more likely to be providing for themselves over longer periods of time.

For the former, women being more likely to work, stay single longer, and possibly avoid marriage altogether, does create a greater base of women who are more interested in stories that skew towards realism and involve racier stuff in general. I think these initial changes in this demographic spurred on the evolution of josei from shoujo – as girls grew up and got tired of the magical romance, so did their reading preferences.

This is where the latter comes in. Women are also forced to support themselves, perhaps not devoting as much money to manga, especially when you consider that wage discrimination still exists as well as structural gender discrimination in the types of jobs women tend to hold (true in both the US and Japan). I could also throw in that women generally are held to higher standards of beauty, which also eats away at time and resources. And finally, those not involved in the labor force most of the time will probably be involved in childrearing – and we all know how much extra time and money most moms have these days. The bottom line is that women will overall have fewer resources (time and money) to dedicate to readership in general.

So, the general number of manga that can be classified as josei (or yuri) is smaller and the fanbase is definitely smaller than shonen, seinen, shoujo or even yaoi. I also believe that much like romance novels in the US, there is a vast wasteland of mediocre wish-fulfillment josei series and only a handful which really delve into the kind of character-driven storylines which are the heart and soul of the best series. Without chapters of 1) meet antagonist 2) get ass kicked 3) hide elsewhere and train/learn super secret technique 4) find antagonist 5) kick antagonist's ass 6) find antagonist's boss 7) lather 8) rinse 9) repeat, these stories absolutely must have something else going for them.

Finally, there's the aspect of sexuality in these two genres. In josei, probably the most shocking part (at least for the aging shoujo reader) is the lack of fulfillment through the sexual act. Unlike hentai and to some extent, yaoi, the titillation factor isn't the goal of most josei (at least the better stuff). Not that there's anything wrong with women liking kinky stuff – it's just more likely that women have been conditioned to feel more neutral or negatively about sex, as compared to men. In general, the United States has some pretty deep hang ups about sex, especially when it comes to the difference between what women enjoy and what men enjoy and if it's okay for them to enjoy it. A manga with explicit sexual content between a woman and a man is pretty easy to classify as porn and treated as such by the average American– which might be okay for hentai, but not so much for josei.

When it comes to yuri, it's an even more complicated situation. I'm not even a big yuri fan, but I think part of the lack of progress here is a real misunderstanding of who the audience is, and why they're reading. I suspect the actual audience is far more diverse than anyone initially assumed – you have people who are in it for the hot girl-on-girl action, and those who are looking for a genuine emotional connection between two female characters which presumably is different than a normal heterosexual pairing, or even a male/male pairing. It's far more likely that publishers are going to err on the side of “too safe” than “too far” in this era of economic collapse and industry upheaval, which is a shame, since it seems like the best way to lose an audience is to bore them. I'm not sure where any publisher gets their estimates for how well a series will do in the US, but whatever they've been using certainly hasn't worked in the realm of yuri manga.

To sum up, I really think that the situation is a lot like the classic male conundrum – “What do women want?” The answer is, of course, “Hell, if I know.” No offense to most of the male population, but it's a lot easier to please a lot of men then a lot of women and the difference shows in the availability of josei and yuri.

And now! Closing with our first of the last comments of Hey Answerfans in 2010 is Andrea's:

Some people may bash me for what I'm going to say, since I saw that Big Windup! got a license, and I'm not even North American, but one of the subgenres of manga/anime that have very little acceptance in the USA is sports.

I remember a discussion in the forum about it, and some reasons made sense, since people would rather see them live than in a cartoon, but oddly enough, down here, in South America, sports anime is pretty popular. Especially if it has football (it's not called soccer, for crying out loud!) in it.

It'd be hard to make people change their views, but I think that choosing carefully series that may strike close to home when it comes to sports preferences may help. It sure did well here when Captain Tsubasa arrived in Latin America!

Right, then! Moving along to next week's 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.

Alright everyone! Hope 2010 is as exciting and hopeful as I both imagine and dread it will be, and I'll be back next week with more answerin' goodness!

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