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Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson,

Damn it. Crap.

I just realized, I have to move at the end of the month.

I hate moving. Arms all stiff and sore from moving beds and heavy dressers. Fingers and thumbs all calloused and numb from boxing up things you never remembered owning. All worried about not getting the security deposit back because of the small wine stain on the carpet.

Maybe the weekly ritual of Answerman will get my mind off of all of this.

Hey Answerman!

I've got a question for you. How do you feel about the portrayals of America and Americans in anime? The reason I ask that a number of the portrayals are a mixed bag. I've seen quite a few of them and from what I've seen they are from my point of view as follows:

Positive: "Digimon," "Kaliedo Star," "Gunsmith Cats."
Negative: "Spriggan," the "Ghost in the Shell franchise, "Silent Service."
Bizarre: "Chrono Crusade," "Baccano!" "Soul Eater."

So what's you opinion of how this country and it's people are portrayed in anime?

Basically, I think it's great. (NSFW language!)

Japan is a small, culturally isolated island nation, so for the most part Japan's only exposure to America comes from big Hollywood movies and pop music. And I wouldn't blame any country that has a less-than-favorable opinion of the US if all they had to judge us on was Madonna and Spider Man 3. But really, if Japan wants to portray us as outright villains, well... we make pretty good ones, to be honest. We do, almost literally, control the world. And if Japan wants to portray us as strange goofy cornbread stereotypes, then I thoroughly enjoy that - in fact, that should happen more often. I'm a sucker for hilariously inept inaccuracies.

No, my only concern with Japan's portrayal of America is whenever they portray any specific ethnic group. Because most Japanese people have never actually seen an actual, say, black person, all they have to use as a reference are dated, insulting stereotypes. And I understand that it's not done maliciously - how could a character like Mr. Popo ever be??? - but it's an uncomfortable reminder of a darker period in our nation's past that we've worked really hard to move away from, and it's disconcerting to see those ancient stereotypes resurface in any context.

But the stereotypes aside, I'm always fascinated to see whatever incredibly wrong and uninformed opinion of America and Americans anime can create next.

Hey Answerman,

Do you think we will see songs from Jpop and Jrock bands on Rock Band Nation? I looked on Rock Band's forums and all I found was speculation; no confirmed Japanese Bands. If you don't know what Rock Band Nation is, allow me to explain. Harmonix, the company that made Rock Band, wants to release even more music than they have the time or manpower to produce. So they created Rock Band Nation. Rock Band Nation allows bands or their record labels to make their songs into DLC for Rock Band, with al ot less direct involvement from Harmonix. There has been some talk on the Rock Band forums that with Rock Band Nation, bands from Japan like: Kung Fu Generation, The PIllows, L' Arc n Ciel, etc, could release their songs as tracks that you could play in the game.

My concern though, is that I see very little movement on the Rock Band forums, or any other forums for that matter, to contact Japanese bands, or their record labels, to let them know that the fans here, in America, want to play their songs on Rock Band. Hey Answerman, can you help me start a movement to get Japanese bands to put their songs on Rock Band Nation? I think this would be awesome if every anime fan / Rock Band fan had the opportunity to play his favorite jpop or jrock song.

Man, that would be totally sweet. Playing "Ride on Shooting Star" with my friends, while drunk? Bliss.

That'll never, ever happen, though. There's two reasons for that:

One, Rock Band Nation is mainly a way to help smaller independent labels and bands put their music on Rock Band Network. L'arc en Ciel is definitely a (relatively) small band here in America, but in Japan they are rock gods. Getting their songs on Rock Band Nation would require a bit of footwork on behalf of their US licensors to obtain the original master tracks for whatever song they want published, and... I think I've said this before, but Japanese record labels reaaaally don't like to give out the master tracks for anything. Especially for something that might please a few hundred Rock Band-owning otaku, but really wouldn't make too much money for them back in Japan.

Two, Rock Band is a big video game... in America. In Japan, it hasn't even been released yet. Harmonix is apparently working with Q Entertainment to create a version specific to Japan, using big bands like X Japan and the like. Shockingly enough, Japanese companies tend to think of the Japanese market first and foremost - foreign markets are just this thing off in the distance that usually aren't worth the hassle. Japan's video game culture is also still rather cold to the concept of downloadable content in general; in fact, I can't say that I can think of any big, recent Japanese game that used it to any great effect. I'd say, if you want to jam out to a TM Revolution song, your best bet is to wait until the Japanese-specific version of Rock Band is released and import it.

That's probably going to cost you quite a bit more than the 200 Microsoft points or whatever, but if Jrock Rock Band you must have, then that is the Jrock Rock Band you shall get.

Hey Answerman!

There's an upcoming project from Toei Animation called Ketsu Inu: http://www.toei-anim.co.jp/sp/mgta/

Ketsu has different meanings like excellence or butt: http://www.eudict.com/?lang=japeng&word=ketsu

Anyway on to the project details. There's a domain name for it: http://whois.domaintools.com/ketsuinu.jp

It's even going to be previewed at the Tokyo Anime Fair: http://www.tokyoanime.jp/en/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/leaflet.pdf

I have two questions:

1. Is Ketsu Inu likely to come after Dragon Ball Kai (aka Dragon Ball Z Kai) ends?
2. Do you think this will save anime if it becomes wildly popular?

Please answer my questions! PLEEEEEEEEASE!

Gah! This guy emails me every week with some new "scoop," wondering if Generic Kids Toy Property will be the "Next Big Thing." I usually ignore them.

So, alright. ALRIGHT. I'll answer your question. I'll do you a solid.

Question number 1: I don't speak Japanese, nobody's been talking about this show, and there's nothing on Toei's website or elsewhere that indicates when or where this "Ketsu Inu" show airs. Nobody knows, man!

Question number 2: If this show, apparently about brightly-colored super deformed moe-children, becomes "wildly popular"... I will eat every single piece of clothing I own.

Seriously, it looks like a lousy, cutesy kid's show. And that's most likely what it will be. Now obviously, I do not know the future and such, but... come on. How would something like that ever be "wildly popular"? It looks like Pretty Cure for four-year-olds.

No, it will not "save" anime. If Ketsu Inu is the thing that will bring about anime's salvation, then that's it. I'm done. I don't want to look forward to a future of generic, super-colorful kid's shows clogging every programming slot allotted for anime.

So, there you go! Question answered. Kudos on doing your research, man, but... you gotta stop wondering if every single kid's show being released and vetted by companies like Toei are going to be the "next big thing." For one thing, that's impossible to predict. And for another thing, I'm worried about the effects of looking at stuff like Ketsu Inu would have on a man's sanity.

So if I get another one of these emails, consider yourself a Flake of the Week entry, pal! Until then, enjoy your throwaway garbage toy-based show intended for children!

Speaking of Flakes! Aside from the above, none of the emails I got in the past week even come close. So, moving along to...

Sweet Mother of God! It's Hey, Answerfans time! Now what, oh what, did I ask of you last week:

Right! Right. Watson? Who gets your blood boiling?

This is a difficult question to answer. In my case, there are the mangaka who produce lolicon and guro, but that's my morals speaking. Some of those artists may also do stuff I like. However, I will call out two specific examples in the mainstream, which are pretty much aberrations on the part of the people involved.

--The creators of Angel Tales. Now, I like me some bishoujo anime and can still dig harem, but the first disc of this left me flat out gobsmacked about just how stupid the creators though we would be to swallow not just the basic premise of the plot (the young male lead not only had 13 pets die on him, but they all come back to him as guardian angel girls?), but instances in the script which anyone with two brain cells to rub together could see through.

--Shoji Kawamori, for Arjuna. I didn't even last one disc with this. Preachiness is bad enough, but preachiness about cultish beliefs with seemingly no basis in reality makes me want to beat my head against the wall. "Insects only eat the dead part of plants"? Say that with a straight face to any farmer who deals in potatoes, apples or cotton. You'll be lucky if they don't get violent on you. This series only had one thing I liked enough to buy--Yoko Kanno's soundtrack. However, Kawamori went on to do series which don't go there (most notably Basquash!--robots, basketball and fan service, oh my!), which means he either got this out of his system or he got told.

After some thought, I'd say the creative type I dislike the most, strictly based on being consistently awful without being flat-out offensive, is the producer of Megumi Hayashibara's early music, who managed to make all her songs sound mind-numbingly alike. I quit trying to find their name after about half an hour, which is time I would like back. Perhaps being offensive might have helped them in this case.

Andrea has a weak spine for weak spines:

Despite having a good amount of licensed manga from this company, I have to say, that TokyoPOP is one of those things that just grinds my gears. I'm not well aquainted enough with the Japanese language to say that they're translations are horrible, but they have a lot of ... "issues" that I really hope they improve on. For example, with the copies I buy from them, the sound effects and a majority of the kanji that isn't in the speech bubbles are not translated, leaving me to guess what they're saying by what's happening in the pannels. Is it a "bang!" or "stare...." or a joke? I don't know! Another thing that drives me crazy is the binding of the manga. Sometimes the dialogue gets cut off, so I have to stretch the book just to read it, and I really hate doing that. My manga collection is one of my prized possesions and it upsets me greatly if one of them rips, which usually does when it comes to their manga, being the clutz that I am. I really hope TP recognizes these problems in the near future. I follow a lot of manga licensed by them and its annoying that it's more expensive than Viz but with half the quality.

Another "creative-type" that drives me nuts in the local anime industry has to be the Anime Network On Demand. Maybe I'm just a person who gets frustrated too easily, but they keep putting anime in the wrong sections. They put Popotan in the shoujo section! Popotan! An anime based off an h-game designed for men! As well as others like This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, a light fanservice anime, and UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie, a lolicon and fanservice anime. Sure they have actual shoujo anime in there like Special A and Gakuen Alice, but I have this feeling that those who work for Anime Network On Demand have little knowledge of anime demographics.

To be fair, they're probably just trying to market to non-anime fans that are looking around On Demand cuz they're bored with the regular airing TV shows. Well, think about it. If I was your average xenophobic and/or ignorant Californian college student, I would think that Popotan belongs in the girls' anime section because its about 3 young sisters and an android going on a bunch of fun adventures together (Powerpuff Girls, much?) and also This Ugly Yet Beautiful World and UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie belong in the girls' section too because they are about magical-girls (well, technically, aliens) and have romance and you know how chicks these days eat up romance and magic. It's the perfect plan. But as someone who knows at least a few things about anime and their appropriate genres, I find it to be aggravating.

Let them eat cake, Ahmad:

if you ask me , i'm really not all that crazy about composers.

i don't hate them , per se, but i think they're over appreciated.

i really find it baffling that once someone brings up a great show they invariably bring up the music as one of, if not the best part of the show,leaving the good writing, characters and production values, etc...

to me, a good composer is one that helps the mood for the scene (as in "this is supposed to be sad" and "this is supposed to be exciting"). and no seems to call shenanigans on great shows that have awful music *cough* infinite ryvius *cough*.

and i know I'm gonna get an unbelievable amount of flack about this, but, yoko kanno is much too over rated. I know she's very talented, and a great composer, but people have built her up to the degree of literally saying my ears will hate me if i listen to anything else. whenever people talk about her they bring up things like bebop and wolfs rain. we can agree that these were great shows with or without the great music. and darker than black was pretty good for what it tried to accomplish and the music was good, but not particularly memorable, but people raised a fuss, because it was kanno. but, what gets me, is that people seem to forget brain powered and arjuna, both composed by the great kanno herself. why you ask? because they were average shows at best.

which proves my point that the show is what matters and the music is an after thought. not the other way around. great icing on a great cake is more than welcome. and great icing on a cake made of poo makes it look good, but you're still eating a cake made of poo.

Remember that watermelon-covered tarp your brought home as a souvenir from that one Gallagher show? Well, be sure to wear it before reading this next response, because C.J. is about to slaughter one big sacred cow:

Least favorite creative type? An obvious choice for me, it can only be Hayao Miyazaki. He seems to have two distinct morphs of movie, neither one very good. The first is usually just him bitching about why nature is always good and man is always evil as he forces us to hear his characters have at least one speech about how good a person they are because they defend nature. He just repeats himself over and over again, a lot of people consider Nausicaa a strong character just because she spoke up against another character who wanted to destroy part of the toxic forest so her people wouldn't flat out die but who the hell does she think she is? So she spoke out against being mean to nature, this makes her automatically right when she has her happy little valley that is actually one of the few safe places from the forest? That works for her people just fine but she's suddenly right about everyone else's situation? How incredibly pretentious! She doesn't know jack shit about humanity or human suffering because oh no, a tree suffering is far more important, even if it's a tree that makes conditions unlivable for humans. The fact that she defended it because it's a tree makes her the good guy and Miyazaki tries to fool us all into agreeing with him. And every character he has in a movie like this is just a flat spokesperson for Miyazaki's radial views of why humans all suck, Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke did the exact same thing by essentially saying all humans are evil at their core except maybe, I don't know, the ones who defend nature? Well WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD, JERKASS! Maybe instead of just crying over and over again how nature is always good, why can't he look at how things really are? He's just living in an ideal fantasy world and everyone just praises his works for looking pretty while being distracted at the utter lack of realistic or meaningful story or character because the character happens to be strong willed for a few instances here and there where they just glare and shout a bit. Well I don't buy it for an instant, he should go live out in the woods if he's so anxious to help the environment because all he's convinced me of is how far he has his head stuck up his ass. Miyazaki is so one-sided in his thinking that it could only be inherently flawed to not even challenge your own views, you just say you're right and disguise how wrong you might be with pretty graphics and nice animation. He's not making his audience think with these types of movies, he's just selling them a scare tactic, he's no better than those politicians who make their entire career out of global warming frights, in fact, Miyazaki might even be worse, everyone accepts the politicians as looking for attention at this point, everyone accepts Miyazaki's point of view right away and then praises him for it. And this man has been making movies for over twenty years. Un-freakin-believable.

Then his other equally bad but far less offensive movie type is the one with usually a girl just...usually crying and doing chores or wandering around a fantasy world like they're on the world's most boring sightseeing tour. Just look at them, Kiki, Chihiro, Sophie, they spend more than half the movie crying or doing chores, it's like he made the exact same movie at least three times and switched the setting slightly then gets praised for using a female main once again because she happens to look determined in one single scene while she cries and whines the rest of the time. She acts maybe two years older than her age and that's suddenly a strong innovative character? And then what do these movies even accomplish? Sure his other type movie shows what a hard on he gets for nature humping speeches, but these other types are basically just slice of life movies with really boring and annoying characters with very good animation and backgrounds. They're not as bad, they're usually just boring, Then in order to fill time he has at least two scenes that involve the characters eating because I've noticed long seen scenes talking about food extensively that is not deliberately a cooking manga/anime tend to be a cheap cop-out that was just as annoying when the Boxcar Children did it, how does he nor anybody else not realize these scenes are incredibly boring filler? Even his one good movie, Castle in the Sky, has two pointless eatings scenes off the top of my head. For everyone praising him on great characters, he sure leaves a lot of worthless scenes that add nothing in almost all of his movies and just about every slice of life type one. At least these tend to just be mediocre and not flat out torture to watch. I could see how some of these might be enticing to people who just want scenery porn thrown at them but for actual substance...I end up clock watching an embarrassing amount of time during the movie not counting the times I did flat out fall asleep. The problem is these movies are just pointless, they have no message and very little in the way of plot and while minimal plot can work just fine, you'd need good characters to back it up, something he's proven time and again incapable of writing. And I don't care if he based these characters off of real people, he must've purposely sought out the most boring children on the face of the planet and went "BRILLIANT!". I don't mind series with average people type characters but they still get developed better, maybe a movie just isn't a good enough time to develop his characters or maybe he just can't pull it off because Satoshi Kon had no problem developing three characters in the confines of time for Tokyo Godfathers but Miyazaki can't even do it for one.

So here's what I think Miyazaki should do: he should just make artbooks of pretty backgrounds and sell those because it's the only thing he can do well. His directing is a joke, half of his movies are so pretentious that they take the place of any actual attempt at a good story and pretends to be deep when it's just him bitching and moaning about his own thoughts and feelings about how he wishes he were probably born a tree and not a person. The other half of the time he just has boring stories that at least manage to not be flawed by being buried in pro-environmental speeches, but aren't very good stories and you can easily find better. Then all of his characters are just...annoying, they're usually just the same character copy and pasted from his own personal cookie cutter (at least he's using his own, I'll give him credit for that, too bad it wasn't a particularly good one to start with), but their either flat or whiny, and just about every one is annoying. Miyazaki is not being creative, he's just making me embarrassed to consider myself an anime fan sometimes when everyone expects I like his shitty movies. I can't wait for Miyazaki to quit and I can't wait to see how he inevitably thoroughly ruins "The Borrowers". I cannot stress enough how much I hate this man's movies and thoughts but the one thing that makes it so infuriating: he's touted as a genius. And all I can do is stand there and sadly shake my head because it's like no one believes me.

...and after that monolithic rant! It's Caleb, closing our segment this week with something that I think we can all agree is terrible and bad:

I read a lot of manga. I've earned a lot of favorite titles, and some favorite authors, but by the same token, I've also kept in mind a few authors that chafe against my most sensitive of nerves like a grindstone, contorting good stories by plastering them with useless, confusing artwork, or just the opposite, and sometimes both these things occur simultaneously. One such author that I've tried again and again to find upsides to is Daisuke Higuchi.

By what could be considered one of the most monumental mistakes I've ever made, I decided to take up reading Higuchi's manga Legendz. "Painful" accurately describes this title. Reading it fills you with the inexplicable urge to burn the book into a heap of smoldering ash, and subsequently do the same to your retinas for having beheld such an atrocity. The writing is bad, the plot is ridiculous, and the artwork is just downright wrong. Thankfully, the thing only lasted a single volume, and throughout it I kept wondering when it was going to redeem itself. It never did, and while at first I wanted to blame the title itself, I realized that wouldn't be right. It's like if you run into a misbehaving kid; you can hate the kid all you want, but it's the parent who's failed in doing a good job of raising them, or in this case, it's the author's fault for bringing such a monstrosity into the world. As such, Daisuke Higuchi has fallen under my "Never Read Anything By Them Ever Unless You Want A Painful 8-Year Coma To Ensue" pile, along with Katsura Hoshino and the 2004 Akira Amano.

I recently discovered that Legendz actually holds the dubious honor of being 10th worst manga by bayesian estimate on ANN. What few people realize is that the ANN Worst Manga stats are actually like the Espada; the 10th is the 0th, and is actually the most fearsome of them all.

And now that we've gotten all that bad chi out of our blood, here's the question for next week!

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.

That's all I got for this week! Remember to keep sending me all your questions and answers and stupidly captioned pet photos to answerman (at) animenewsnetwork.com! Take care!

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