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Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson,

Standard greeting! Brief mention of the name of this column, which is "Hey, Answerman"! Small anecdote about my life. Maybe a joke or two. Awkward pause.

Statement on why I should just get to the questions!

A group of friends and I were talking about the whole Jay Leno time slot war and I mentioned that Leno would most likely take back his time slot because he was a car otaku and would need some way to keep his obsession going. Everyone just kind of stopped and looked at me like I was stupid, and several people laughed, saying I didn't know what I was talking about because Jay Leno has nothing to do with anime. So my question is:

Why is it that in the US Otaku is only viewed as anime fans when the translation of the word is simply someone that obsesses over their hobby? Is it just people being misinformed like the American Idol contestant telling everyone that's what it means or a case of Otaku becoming only anime and manga fans in Japan now-a-days?

The word "Otaku," really, has come to reflect only anime and manga fans because it's a term that has been self-applied by so-called "otaku" since the early days of fandom. Or at least since they all watched Otaku no Video in the 80's.

There's also the fact that "otaku" is, inescapably, a Japanese word, so the Japanese stigma is impossible to ignore. I want to call someone an obsessive nerd, I'll just call them an obsessive nerd. If I want to specifically refer to hardcore anime fans, I'll bust out with the "otaku" bomb, because it's more specific and appropriate.

In summation, yeah, "otaku" reflects upon the social failings of all kinds of shut-ins in Japan, but the word has been appropriated and used by anime fans since the dawn of fandom as a way to identify with their otaku brethren in Japan. If anything, blame anime fans for this. They're the ones who started calling themselves "otaku" first. They beat gun geeks, car geeks, and science-fiction geeks to the punch on that one.

Hey Answerman. I collect anime. I love it to death. By collect, I mean authentic region 1 DVDs. As a collector, I'm worried with the industry of anime in the US. Once it falls, what happens to collectors who buy anime? My sister once met a guy who said he had more anime than me [I have over 800 dvds]. Then he told her how it was just downloaded from the internet. Do we just start downloading subtitled anime onto external hard drives and call it a day? Do we just surrender and look at our DVD shelves with a tearful eye? Do we start buying imported subtitled anime?

I'm sorry, I laughed a little bit when you said "imported subtitled anime." Oh, dear. That's funny. Anyway, kudos to you, good sir! You are one of a thinning herd of legitimate anime fans that are actually supporting the anime industry by purchasing DVDs!

Luckily for you, though, is that unless you're absolutely careless when it comes to the care and maintenance of you DVDs - say, using them as coasters, makeshift frisbees, confetti, or a mid-meal snack - is that those physical copies won't be going away, obviously. Those DVDs will be around with you as long as you want, in perpetuity, and that's something that no digital distribution model can come close to accomplishing. And by that reason alone, the elimination of physical media - something that's been much hemmed-and-hawed both on this website and elsewhere - isn't likely to happen anytime soon.

It's an inescapable truth that the overwhelming majority of anime-viewing is done through a combination of Bittorrent downloads of dubious legality and sanctioned online-streaming sites; it's a harsh reality that happened almost a decade ago that companies are only just now wising up to. But even through all of that, after the collapse of Geneon and the corporate game of Jenga that was ADV, anime DVDs and Blu Rays are still being manufactured and sold. Not in mass quantities, of course, but they're still out there. Best Buy still has an anime section, The Right Stuf is still in business, and Funimation is still cranking out DVD boxsets with reckless abandon.

Even with all the gloom and doom regarding the global economy at large and the anime industry's "death spiral," DVDs and general packaged media isn't likely to up and disappear anytime within the next decade, at the very least. Until mankind reaches spiritual transcendence and is able to conjure every piece of entertainment ever made directly into their brains through a globalized network of thoughts and dreams, physical media will play an important role in the entertainment industry. Even in a niche one, like anime.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is out now in the US; do you think maybe the popularity of the game will make companies think about releasing some of Tatsunoko's older shows in America?

What, you mean the average adolescent gamer in the US doesn't know about Ippatsuman or Gold Lightan? Ridiculous!

But seriously, I doubt it. I mean really, really, really doubt it. First of all, even though I really love the game and I think it's great, I really don't see it becoming a best-seller. I don't think it'll be a huge failure, either, mind you, but the "Tatsunoko" name has absolutely zero cache in America. And nobody knows that better than Capcom; Tatsunoko vs. Capcom was totally a game made for themselves, created because all the guys at Capcom obviously grew up loving the cheesy super-heroics of Tatsunoko's stable of helmet-wearing, tights-clad characters. And they made a really interesting and fun game out of it. And that's why the game is being released here; because it's interesting and fun. Even so, selling a fighting game that has a bunch of goofy Japanese anime characters in suits to gamers too busy with Mass Effect 2 to bother with anything else is a pretty risky move.

Besides, HOW MANY times have people tried to release Gatchaman here? There was the Sandy Frank "Battle of the Planets" in the 70's that was pretty successful, but then there was the Turner-approved "G-Force" dub and the boring 90's OAV that Urban Vision tossed out and the uncut DVDs that ADV produced that no-one bought and the upcoming CGI film from Imagi Studios, riding high on a wave of goodwill from their recent Astro Boy movie, and... guh.

Older shows do not sell. They just don't. I'm not saying that's a good thing - because it's not. It's terrible. I hoped that everyone in the world would buy the DVDs for Mobile Suit Gundam and Macross and Lupin, but they didn't. Oh good lord, they didn't.

On the flipside, maybe that means the terrible Yatterman live-action movie and the even-more-awful 2008 Yatterman TV series can come to the US! Joy of joys!

Hey gang! Remember how last week I got an angry email from a bitter man (or at least I would assume) regarding anime conventions and how they're all terrible things that nobody should enjoy because he doesn't like them for ill-defined reasons? Well, I got another email, with "I Know this is all but going to get me two FotW's in a row..." and so I... well, read on.

... but if you think I didn't expect to be turned into this week's FotW, nor that I would respond to it, you're real funny.

I figured exactly as such, and was not disappointed. Not that I'm proud of said fact, but, given the present state of the anime fandom and how it continues to like to lie to itself, not surprised in the least. But, needless to say, there are a few things I'd like to reply to, which may win me this week's FotW as well!!

You said: "A very angry gentleman sent this in regarding my answer to the question about big conventions last week:" Not necessarily mad at you, but very angry at the present anime fandom. Pegged perfectly.

Then you opined: "(Great! I love it when people introduce themselves by proudly announcing that they've been banned from everything on the internet ever! It totally makes me want to read their letter and take them seriously!)" What makes you think I didn't believe absolutely that last week's letter wouldn't end up exactly where it was???

How do you think I would think you would take half of what was said there seriously (with the intro or not!), in the same manner as if I were to basically write ESPN about how most of the major sports are rigged these days? You have a vested interest in continuing, as much as feasible, the anime status quo. That blew up a long time ago. I didn't expect you to take me seriously -- you didn't when I was on ANN, and you certainly won't now.

A slight misinterpretation here: "(You responded, but you didn't care about it, either. This is also great! Either you have a keen sense of irony, or you are a living symbol of self-hatred. Either one works!)"

I didn't care if you put me as FotW, and, as I expected, you did. I figure I win this week's too! I don't really care if (and, in fact, hope that it happens) AX/SPJA go up in flames, for many of the reasons I listed. I just felt that I finally had to respond anyway, figuring that I would be FotW in any reasoned event in the name and opinion of an anime fandom who continues to lie to itself.

"(I like how you totally torpedo your own argument, there. "The con hasn't descended into chaos somehow, which is baffling to me because I totally think it sucks. Unless I'm wrong. Which I'm not. Even though the evidence proves otherwise.")"

I've been to the LACC area, repeatedly. It makes Long Beach look safe, and the only reason I didn't think that the element in Long Beach was going to torpedo that was that they basically put it in the "resort area" of Long Beach.

And I do think that's one of the reasons AX has begun to decay. I was banned from AX when I told them exactly what I thought about them and their decision-making, realizing that, also, it was not just a bottom- up operation. The two years since have proven that there are major, gaping holes in the AX/SPJA system.

"(Until now, I was wondering what was up with the people who would attend those industry panels who would just sit quietly and applaud after the companies would simply rattle off a list of their new licenses. I thought they were robots, or that I was hallucinating. Now I know it was just a small sample of angry people from the internet.)"

About 20% that, and about 75-79% waiting to see what they were giving away at the end of (or during (which see the old ADV AX panels) such panel. Especially as piracy has taken over anime, the industry panels are an anachronism. I said, as a result:

"AX, in that regard, is OBSOLETE. There is no meaningful US anime industry anymore that Crunchyroll hasn't basically overran. If Funimation's sales are up 10% YoY, then the anime industry has shrunk an additional 30% or more over the same time span. Buying the DVD material has become an irrelevancy, and we have a piracy-driven fanbase to thank for that. AX is no longer AX. I don't want the "orgy of fandom", and, frankly, you don't want me in same."

To which you replied to that last sentiment: "And that, I think, is something we can all agree upon."

Then I suggest you get moving on getting me banned from the anime fandom (and all anime conventions) once and for all. If Crunchyroll and this anime fandom are the future of anime, I am not in anime's future.

Curiously, I think this guy messed up or something, because I also got this email that was addressed to the "Taco Bell Corporation":

Dear Taco Bell Corporation,

I understand that this letter is likely to make it's way into the wastebasket of your so-called "Customer Service" department, but I really don't care. In fact, I'd wager that's what happens anyway! I'm right about this just like I'm right about all things.

For three years now I have been on a crusade to make ample supplies of Ranch Dressing available at every single Taco Bell location, and that has led me to be banned from the official Taco Bell website, the Taco Bell "Bellzine" unofficial fan forums, and as a result my top-score on the Burrito Blaster web game has been removed from the leaderboards. Like I said, this is good, because you clearly do not want me as a customer, and I clearly do not want to be your customer. Even though I cried. For several hours. And this is my fifteenth letter this month on this very subject. Like I said; I really don't care.

Your disconcern for legitimate customer complaints (ample complimentary Ranch Dressing cups, Taco Bell Kids Meal tie-in toys for the Japanese anime series "Chibi Vampire," why I should be on the Taco Bell board of directors, et cetera, ipso facto, et al) belies your lack of functioning capacity and that means you cannot accomplish things that are good that I have suggested. And the fact that you have not flown me to your corporate offices to enact these awesome suggestions as your new lord and leader means that your vision is weak, and you are spineless, the lot of you. I would also be able to defeat you all with the power of my wit and cutting remarks.

But then, I do not want to give you my business, because you are clearly not interested in it.

Except for maybe this Thursday, when I will drive over to the Taco Bell across town in my stepmother's car and purchase a Nacho Cheese Gordita, which will NOT have the correct amount of meat-to-cheese ratio and I will explain all of this in a letter the following day.


A. Jackass

Weird. Why would he send me that letter? It's so weird.

It's Hey Answerfans time! And my God will there be some hilarity. Here was the question I threw out to the masses last week:

Karl begins by letting us look a bit at his family life:

I own all seven Queen's Blade Revoltech figures; I think they're pretty cool, but the rest of my family seem to find action figures of large-breasted, scantily-clad women fairly goofy. Or they think they're cool, and I'm the goofy one...

I also have the Yotsuba Danboard Revoltech figure; even I think an action figure of a kid in a cardboard-box-robot costume is a bit silly.

Vega427 reminds us of the ominous truth:

The goofiest piece of memorabilia is have is probably the Izumi and Anna, of "He is my master", bedsheets. Then again maybe the Najica Blitz Tactics and Shuffle "GOD" panties are. Of course, they've never seen the light of day. It's already hard enough finding a girlfriend when you're into anime........

Paste them all over your room, Emily, for the love of God:

Recently while perusing the dollar store I came upon some Dragon Ball Z Valentines day cards and immediately bought them, they are wonderfully silly and have random characters from Dragonball Z on them with ridiculously cheesy things on them. For example there's one of Super Saiyan Goku powering up with the words “Power Up for a great Valentines day.” At the moment I'm rather torn as to whether I should give them out on Valentines Day or paste them all over my room.

I just had to find an Amazon link for those, because they sound utterly amazing. Anyway.

Uh, Andre! You're up:

I own tons of haruhi stuff, seeing as it's easily my favorite manga, but the single silliest thing I own out of all the anime stuff in my room (or elsewhere) is a small yuki figurine, one that you have to put together yourself, in a cute little cat suit. I was just browsing the local anime store for the first time, and when I saw it, I just knew I had to have it! It was just too funny, because even with the cat suit, she still has that same stoic expression as always.

Timothy's packin' heat:

The goofiest anime related purchase I've ever made was a SIG Sauer P232 SL, in Gunslinger Girl this is the gun Hilshire gives Triela after encountering Pinocchio. To get this I had to apply for a permit to purchase a handgun with the sheriff's office, endure ridicule from my family for buying it, and of course the several hundred dollars to actually procure it (hurray pharmacist's salary). Overall it's awesome and the pinnacle of my collection.

And now, a word from jspairana, a self-described "tea fan":

The goofiest piece of anime-related merchandise I own is a teacup.

You see, when watching Minami-ke, I noticed that Haruka drank from a teacup with a fancy color pattern and no handles. As a tea fan, I decided to cross my two hobbies by getting a similar teacup. So, one weekend I spend an entire day going all over town to almost a dozen stores, meticulously looking over their cups, trying to find one without a handle. Eventually I found one. The lack of a handle made the hot tea burn my hand a little, and it didn't hold much so I had to keep refilling it, but I got to grin to myself like a doofus as I drank tea. Although eventually the cup got kinda discolored/ruined in the dishwasher so I tossed it, pouted and stamped my feet like the manchild I am, and went back to good old gigantic American-size mugs and glasses.

Your "Psyduck" fits the "bill"? Your unintentional puns fill me with glee, Patrick:

The goofiest piece of anime merchandise? Well, that depends on what you mean by "goofy." Goofy as in, "Why did they make this thing?" Then yes, I would have to qualify my remote controlled Psyduck toy that I got for $4 at a mall one year at GenCon as that goofy. Goofy as in, "Silly fun?" Then the dancing Psyduck might fit that bill.

The goofiest I've seen, however, is the Toad hat. Yes, Toad from Super Mario Brothers. There are two versions. One is literally a hat shaped like the cap of a mushroom. The other is Toad as a hat. You put your head in his ass, his feet form the brim. That was way out there.

VenomSymbiote will be getting the iPad version, obviously:

Oh man, I cannot believe I'm admitting this... XD

I happen to own, on my iPod Touch, a Sasameki Koto kissing game.

For serious.

For the longest time, I thought that I would, never, ever own a kissing similulator. I mean, I'm perfectly capable of having a normal relationship with a girl. However, after getting into Sasameki Koto, I got into the mood of "MUST GET EVERYTHING RELATED TO SK NOW!!!" Then I heard they released a kissing sim. For a couple of weeks I was debating whether or not try it (I mean, come on!), but the fanboy in me really wanted to try at least one of these things out.

It's somewhat embarrising when Ushio Kazama tells me that my kissing sucks. XD On the other hand, when I kiss her really well, she tells me that she feels "so romantic!" :D Now, I honestly don't plan on getting anymore of these crazy games... However, I do like knowing that I can actually rationalize why this is fun to play, as opposed to other people I know... Hey, it's fun, really, really, fun. In the most non-creepy way. There's no question that this is my goofiest piece of anime-related merchandise I own, that's for sure.

And now! Part One of Two in the "awesome photographs people sent me" part of this week's Answerfans. Ms. Winters, show the nice people your awesome thing:

I know I was the one who posted on being attacked by fangirls last year in Hitsugaya cosplay. But there was a secondary reason I was attacked. I own these.

Yeah, I'm not sure what to say about it.

Part Two of Two. Aaron, you are my favorite person ever right now.

This is a picture of some of the strange anime things I own. It was just too hard to pick one so I went with several. I also think that when their strangeness combine to surround one anime fan, you can't find anything stranger. Not even on Ripley's. It's damn near a phenomenon.

I do hesitate to call the Lucky Star shirt strange, though, because it's actually very comfortable. Maybe that's what makes it strange? That or the pink, Japanese girl's sailor outfit printed on the front and back. I haven't decided yet.

Fantastic, absolutely fantastic. You live for days like today, you really do. Anyway! Here's what's on tap for next week's round of questioning:

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.

Remember, folks! Email me all your questions, answers, and sick NES game cart tips to answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! See you all later!

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