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Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson,

Hey gang! Welcome to another edition of the weekly Question-and-Answer-type Jamboree known as Hey, Answerman!

I've got some really interesting questions this week, and I've finally got a new Flake! Excitement!

Dear Answerman,

I am a Range Murata fan, and I would like to buy / import some of his art books, but the Christopher Handley case makes me a bit hesitant on the idea.

Without requesting legal advice, do you think that Range Murata's books would probably be ok to bring over, or could some of the art be enough to raise a red flag and get my butt in trouble?

Aw, see? That just makes me sad.

I think people are getting really, really hypersensitive about the Chris Handley case. Honestly, sir, import those Range Murata books if you're a fan. Import the hell out of them. You will be just fine.

Personally, I'm not entirely sure what to think about Range Murata's predilection for portraying scantily-clad young girls. But I do know what to think about his skills as an artist and as a designer - he is fabulous. His drawings are wonderfully soft and appealing, and his usage of color and composition is second-to-none. I absolutely love his stuff, loli subtext notwithstanding.

Not to mention that the "Robot" manga anthologies he created were officially published here in the US! Seriously, everybody - chill the hell out. The only people who should be shaking in their boots in this post-Handley world are the "collectors" of seriously sicko loli pornography. If you're a creepy skeeve trying to import gross and distasteful lolicon doujinshi, then yes, you should probably tread lightly. PLEASE bear in mind that I'm in no way saying that I think Handley deserved his sentence or whatever; I'm with the majority on this issue that I think his unfortunate case sets a terrifying precedent against the notions of free speech.

BUT. Everybody on the internet who might've browsed 4chan once in their life or are thinking about buying Strawberry Marshmallow on DVD seem to think like they're going to be raided by the FBI and tossed into a Gitmo-like gulag for their thoughtcrimes. You won't. The issue is not that the federal government has problems with animated underage girls, it's that they have problems with animated underage girls in gross pornography. If gross pornography doesn't apply to what you're doing with your life, then you're fine.

So buy that Range Murata artbook. Watch Hanamaru Kindergarten. Sleep soundly at night because of this. Everything will be OK.


When will the second Evangelion movie in the remake series be available on DVD in the US? If you had to take a wild guess?

Normally I skip over questions about specific titles getting release dates - that's what our Encyclopedia is for, people! That, and far-off release dates are the sorts of closely-guarded corporate secrets that don't tend to trickle through my information filter - but I thought I'd chime in on this one. Specifically because I think I'm one of the few people that actually really, really liked Evangelion 1.0. It was just a retread of the TV series, absolutely, but I thought it worked much better as a feature film than I expected it to. I thought the subtle changes and fresh coat of animation paint was wonderful. And I can't wait for the second film to be released.

But, I'm sad to say, I'm pretty sure the wait for the next film is going to mirror the long, almost torturous wait the first film went through. These Evangelion movies aren't like your usual US anime release; they're expensive films that the Japanese licensors have lofty international sales expectations for. One of the reasons the first film took so long to be released on DVD stateside was because the Japanese licensors pitched the film heavily to major US film distributors - Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, et al. - because they had big and foolishly optimistic expectations for it. Obviously none of those big distributors wanted it, so it was up to Funimation to literally come to the rescue and jump through ridiculous hoops on behalf of the licensor to acquire it. They had to strike up expensive film prints and lose money on a small theatrical run, for example, as part of their contract before they could release the DVD. And only now, several months later, is the Blu Ray being released.

So, sadly, I'm pretty sure that scenario is likely to happen again. Klock Worx probably wants the next film to open on 2,500 multiplex screens across the United States under the banner of a major Hollywood studio, and since that's not going to happen, there's going to be a lot of wasted time and wasted effort before the fans can finally get their salivating hands on it. Hopefully by the time the third film rolls along they'll realize the folly of this, but... probably not. It's nice to want things, I guess.

Hi Answerman. Some manga fans, particularly of Bleach and Hellsing, have noted that Nick Simmons's comic Incarnate has some pretty uncanny similarities in regards to art, storylines, and even poses to the two manga. Some fans have even taken the time to overlay some Bleach panels with Incarnate panels to compare, and the two are almost line for line copies of each other. It's serious enough that the publisher has stopped production of the comic and is looking into the matter. Viz even has a legal team assembled to build a case if necessary.

In light of this, how do you feel about the situation? Has Simmons crossed the line between "inspired by manga" and "copying manga line art"? What might some of the legal consequences be if Viz or possibly Dark Horse charge him with plagiarism?

Oh, right.

This Nick Simmons story is one of my favorite stories ever. It takes a certain kind of douche-yness to so blatantly plagiarize a popular title like Bleach in the first place; it takes a whole OTHER kind of spectacular douche-splosion to so painfully melt down under the lens of internet scrutiny to start angry diatribes on Facebook, accusing people of making photoshop manipulations to make him "look bad," and posting a half-hearted "apology" that talks about "similarities in all manga" for panels and characters that look UTTERLY IDENTICAL.

Honestly though, I think all the laughs at Nick Simmons' expense is punishment enough. I don't think Tite Kubo or Viz are particularly up in arms about this - in fact, I'm picturing them laughing hysterically at this sad failure of a human being, this unremarkable son of a gimmicky aged rock star destroying his entire artistic career so quickly and so spectacularly.

Look at it this way; what possible work could Nick Simmons get, now that he's been so publicly shamed as a terrible plagiarist? If you were a comic book publisher, would YOU fund anything he wanted to publish? No, of course not, because after two issues you would find out he just traced the story from Naruto and Vampire Hunter D. He's a laughing stock, and his crappy Bleach rip-off isn't worth the time or effort to seek legal reparations for.

That said, I eagerly look forward to Nick Simmons' next project: "Ninja's Scroll."

This email came to my concer:

To Whom It May Concer:
I have a student that loves your cartoons. She thinks that your drawing of Daisy was taken from a dream that she had. She is convinced that she is actually a character in your cartoons. Please reassure her that this is not the case and that you created the character from your own imagination.

Thank you

Time for Hey, Answerfans! Here's what I threw upon you all last week:

Starting us off for the week, Alex looks for that creamy, delicious core:

While it's true that I am a great fan of the "safe and predictable" - I stick pretty close to standard shonen and "real robots" mecha, since I have a lot of experience with those genres and they appeal to my own tastes in storytelling - I'm reminded that the reason I fell so utterly for anime and manga in the first place is that they, for the most part, have something inherently different at their core from any of the media art pieces I'd known before. In that regard, I have to say that I enjoy taking periodic ventures into the new and unknown realms of more "avant-garde" titles than I'm used to, if only for short stints at a time. I'm often intrigued by anime titles that use a less direct or optimistic narrative style and often find myself awed by new art styles and crazy manipulations of perspective. And hey, if whatever new-type title I'm sampling has something progressive or deep to say for all its artistic posturing, then I definitely feel as though I've gotten something out of "stepping into the larger world". You'll find a lot of people who balk at the unconventional stuff and an equal number of fans who thumb their noses at titles that go with the flow, but I've always felt that coming to fully understand and fully appreciate one helps to do the same for the other. Shoot 'em all; I'll sort 'em out for myself, thanks.

Don't judge me and my figurines, Susan:

When I first read this question I thought maybe it was meaning perhaps things having to do with questionable tentacles. But instead I'm gonna talk about Elfen Lied.

This is one of my absolute favorite anime. Ever. It is such a stark contrast to what I usually watch that when I first asked a friend of mine about it his only response was "You wouldn't like it". I'm probably somewhat more desensitized (or I guess you could say apathetic) towards violence and nudity then an average person, but it certainly pushed the boundaries of what most normal people would probably consider acceptable. I have to say it broadened even MY horizons a bit. In the end, I thought it really had something to say over top of all that ultraviolence...and I would never, EVER let my family or any of my non anime friends see it least they think I'm a psychopath.

On the other hand though we have Le Portrait de Petit Cossette. From reading quick summaries of it online it seemed like it had several elements I'd love. But then watching it...I guess they were trying to be artistic? It completely lost me with the main guy in it having a kind of moment of going Saiyan in a kind of...hallucination or something. Like the story just...stopped...so there could be these beautiful but utterly baffling dream scenes. I was just confused and had absolutely no idea what was going on. "Artistic" doesn't always mean "good". The only reason I even finished it is because it only had 3 episodes and I held on to some hope that it would eventually make sense.

So with just those two titles I ended up having the exact opposite reaction then I'd thought...since I went in to Elfen Lied expecting to hate it and Cossette expecting to love it. So ya, I'm willing to give anything a shot. Shame though that money talks and lonely people have money to blow on scantily clad figurines and body pillows, so there's only one boundary pushing show for every 15 utterly predictable harem shows.

I've got some Jan Svenkmeyer films to throw your way, Jesse:

I'm pretty much open to watching anything. Though the majority of the anime i watch usually conforms to a tried and tested genre or story track, i'll gladly go off and watch something unusual (or downright weird) if i hear good things about it, or a summary has got me interested.

I think the last time i watched an anime that broke the mold significantly was right about the time i started reading shelf life, and saw the reveiw for then they cry. I dont usually watch horror anime, and episode four sort of threw me abit, but its quickly become a favorite because of its unique storytelling.

In respect to all sorts of media, if you find something unusual throw it at me. Theres a great pleasure to be had in exploring all sorts of story concepts and storytelling methods, it greatly pleases the author in me.

I'm taking your "Enlightened Anime Connoisseur" badge away, Russel:

I think hearing other people discuss innovative, experimental, or artistic animation helps garner an interest in watching it. For instance, my willingness to watch different types of anime has greatly increased since I started listening to anime podcasts where they discuss all sorts of films that I probably would never have thought about on my own. Listening to reviews given by others in a similar demographic, where I'm aware of our shared interests, has prompted me to be more willing to "take a chance" with something I haven't heard of or haven't thought I'd be interested in.

It probably helps that my college education has left me with at least a basic knowledge and interest about art, literature, and philosophy. But, hearing intelligent people of a similar education level to myself discuss the ideas and techniques used by the staff behind a given anime is actually such a rare experience that when I hear it, I'm immediately more interested than I expected to be.

I think the biggest step towards an interest in other genres or styles of anime is to start caring about who makes anime. When I first started to pay attention to the names and histories of anime studios, anime directors, and staff members it opened up a whole different perspective on the medium. True, most anime is just made to make money or to adapt a pre-existing manga. But animation is also made as a carefully crafted message between the artists and the viewer (just like art or film). And whether the message is primarily conceptual or visual, another kind of enjoyment of anime stems from the intimate experience of understanding the intent of the creators. To feel as though you've seen inside their mind a little bit.

Podcasts and web columns specializing in lesser-known anime (like the Buried Treasure section by Justin Sevakis) have led me to enjoy some anime a little outside of my usual viewing zone such as: Robot Carnival, Bobby's in Deep, Project A-ko, Ringing Bell, Nobody's Boy Remi, etc...

Although, an interest isn't necessarily followed by an enjoyment every time. I recently watched Gisaburō Sugii's "Night on the Galactic Railroad" and can honestly say I "didn't get it." So much for all that talk of being an enlightened anime connoisseur...

Silrn doesn't like Noboteru Yuuki, apparently:

To answer this question, I'll answer it enigmatically outright and then explain myself I suppose. I'm incredibly open to something a little bit different, but reluctantly so. Totally contradictory I know, but I feel its the way I end up being with Anime and Manga. I should also briefly qualify the statement also that I still don't watch or read horror and gore genre, because I've never been able to gain any real enjoyment out of them. Moving on to answering the question clearly.

Some of the absolute best series that I've watched are series that I couldn't take seriously for a variety of reasons. To start with I'm actually going to use Love Hina. Despite Love Hina being a mainstream title by a mainstream mangaka by today's standards, when I was getting into Anime, it was bloody expensive and based on reading the covers of the DVDs and the title being "Love" Hina, I couldn't seem to believe that it'd be a series good for a guy, so for weeks or even months, I'd pick up the DVDs look at them, put them back, and then go buy another movie or OVA, constantly hoping to find some gems that stood up to the "classics" like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, or Perfect Blue. After months of buying movies and OVAs at 25-30 bucks a pop and steadily losing faith that anime was really as good as I wanted it to be, I decided to buy the first DVD of Love Hina, and needless to say I loved it. after getting a couple of the DVDs and enjoying them, I decided to take the plunge and buy my first manga (technically not truly my first, but I didn't really acknowledge the flipped pokemon manga as manga at that point). That was the establishment of me as a fan of Manga and Anime.

The next big example is art style. Once I got hooked on Ken Akamatsu's style (and just a tad bit later, Kousuke Fujishima, Satoshi Urushihara and Masamune Shirow), I pretty firmly set up in my mind those artists as well as the then "generic" anime/manga style as being the acceptable style, and not giving the artstyle of say Miwa Ueda's Peach Girl much credit, because the style just didn't intrigue me. At my first convention (Katsucon as it happens to be) and online in forums and in game chats in Everquest, I heard about this legendary anime, Escaflowne. I investigated this, and decided that the story sounded good, so I bought the super special edition box set with the black Escaflowne figure. That was one of my more expensive anime purchases ever (don't regret it now....). I got it home, popped in the first DVD and bwah, the NOSES my god the NOSES. I just couldn't get past it, it was terrible and I didn't watch it again for months or even possibly a year and change. Well my roommate got hooked on anime, and he heard the same stuff that I did, so he watched it (without me) and with fresh eyes and no prejudices. It irked me a little that he enjoyed my expensive purchase and I didn't, so I resolved to sit down and watch this series again, and somewhere around half way through the story, I realized that I couldn't enjoy this series any other way now. The artstyle was so unique that it just stood out and of course the story is phenomenal. So lesson learned here, don't judge an anime / manga by its art! I'll still prefer the artstyles of my favorite mangaka, but a good story is a good story!

I'm getting pretty talkative, and this is of course becoming a wall of text, but there are still 2 examples left that I've found. This one is concerning "boring" plot ideas. A manga (and anime) about a young boy playing an old, slow, boring game. At the point that I came across this series, things like Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and even Digimon had already been out, and established themselves as popular stories for kids, and in general I looked for stuff with more depth, so I was quite leary about another Kid and a Game story. But someone I trusted told me it was really good, and that it fit my bill for my favorite type of story telling (that being character development). You may already have figured out that I'm talking about Hikaru no Go. Even today with lots of other great stories out there, I still occasionally wish that the story was longer, but the story of Hikaru and Akira is the story that ends 50, 60, or maybe 70 years from now! In an odd way, Hikaru no Go, turned me onto the Japanese Sports genre, which leads me to my next and final example.

Old stuff is Old (also really long)! As I mentioned earlier, I truly started my anime & manga fandom with Love Hina, so ignoring some of the older movies that I bought as I was tentatively finding my way into being a true anime Fan, I'd always been used to so-called higher production values. I tended to stay away from things like Dragon Ball (not Z), or Ranma 1/2 and other similar stuff, because well, the style was old and the animation wasn't smooth. But by This Time I was starting to learn that art style wasn't everything, and that boring plots might not be boring, so I had heard about this guy who's been doing manga and anime forever, and that he was one of the greatest mangaka to ever not be popular outside of Japan (this is a relative statement I know). So I found out that this guy Mitsuru Adachi's penultimate series, also one of his earliest, Touch was a must watch story. Searched and Searched, well I couldn't buy it unless I got it pirated, well phooey on that. I can't speak or understand Japanese (maybe someday) so no to buying Japanese DVDs. I did end up downloading it (I'm sorry, I buy everything I possibly can, I like supporting the Manga & Anime industry, I can only do that by paying for stuff), 101 episodes..... ugh. Well I got it on the hard drive, and left it there, I'd watch it some day I suppose. After reading some of his shorter translated manga works, I finally decided to try watching the anime. And well, Old stuff is Old! But I persevered and watched it all, and you know what, I can truly say and argue that Touch is one of the best animes to ever be made, and it was made almost 30 years ago. Mitsuru Adachi is now one of my most favorite mangaka period. I dream of the day that I can buy a complete series of his work published in english (I'm still praying that Cross Game makes it across the pond).

In short, I might drag my feet, and delay and hem and haw about trying some new or different or artistic. But what I've learned is weird titles, unique (or not) artstyles, odd/boring plots, and old works still have the ability to captivate and entertain at a level that most modern, popular titles can't even compare. Does that mean I immediately jump on and watch "new" things to me that don't have that perfect art style or a cool plot right away? Well no, but I do know that when it comes down to it, I no longer judge a series by things that are meaningless in the long run, I wait to judge the relative value of something until after I've seen it. Silly old sayings like don't judge a book by its cover, turn out to be true after all!

Quincy lives for this stuff:

That is what I live for in an anime or manga. Something different, unique, artistic!! I have long since grown tired of the cookie cutter and marathon madness media like Naruto, Dragon Ball, or Absolute Boyfriend. I crave an interesting story that either creates a whole new plot or brings amazing twists to an overworked story. Plus the art HAS to be good. Since anime and manga rely heavily on pictures I have to like what I see in order to continue watching it. Sure the tired and true stuff helps fuel the system but I love it when something unique pops up and succeeds. It probably sounds elitist to average fans but I have limited time and so must be picky!

To me, part of being a fan is to find new and different anime and manga by shifting between period pieces, fantasy, science fiction, horror, comedy, shojo, and shounen. Granted I'm not completely open minded as there are some genres I will not touch like yaoi. I will also admit that the animes I first started with were the marathons like Yu-Gi-Oh! and Inu-Yasha. But my first and still number one favorite anime is Metropolis because of it's art style and story. Sure it's classic boy meets robot girl but it has driving plot and no fluff about some love interest rival. Another good example is Baccano! where a huge cast is managed into sixteen beautiful, fast-paced episodes (well the first one isn't but you get the point). Or Spice and Wolf which combines fairy tales with economics. Basically I look for those "artistic" animes and mangas because those are the gems of the industry. Though admittedly not every one of them turns out to be a masterpiece.

Andrea's "safe zone" is safe:

When it comes to anime watching, I'd say I'm pretty willing to watch something differing from the norm. It's been exactly a year since I've "joined the fandom" and I believe watching a variety of anime would give a me an idea of which ones are considered good or bad or even just okay. I just want to expand my horizons a bit, ya know what I mean? I guess my anime safe zone would be comedic and sometimes dramatic, bishounen and moe filled types like Lovely Complex or Toradora! that have lovable, sweet happily ever after endings where no one dies and everything will be A-OK from here on out (I'm an escapist. Don't judge me) but I get a serious kick out strange and interesting animes like Pale Cocoon, Aoi Bungaku, and just about everything from Studio 4°C. Or for a more recent example, Katanagatari. It's very different than what I am used to watching: odd character designs (almost like local ones, even) as well as animation and coloring style, a mother load of dialogue, and historical/set in the Edo era. Needless to say, I'm in love with it. It's almost depressing that the episodes are monthly.

However, it is totally different when it comes to me and reading manga. Straight up and honestly, the only manga I know for sure I will enjoy and that is my safe zone is shoujo romance manga. I think I have seen every cliche there is to see and I still can not get enough. It's not that I'm not willing to look at different types of manga, it's more like I really enjoy the "heartbeat feeling" I get when reading them. And as I said before, I'm an escapist--I would very much like to go to a world where I can have a perfect, story-book romance, as I believe that such a thing is non-existent in reality, and shoujo romance manga is perfect for doing just that. Anywho, I do have odd-ones-out in my collection that I enjoy like Natsume's Book of Friends and Nabari no Ou, but they are just a few compared to my shoujo romance collection.

And finally, Petrea kills it with her simple response:

If there is one thing I absolutely *hate*, it's safe and predictable. The thing where the review says "It's kind of unusual, but really good" is the one that goes onto my must-watch or must-read list. Keep your Tsubasas and your Narutos and your umpteen spinoffs of Gundam; give me Noein and Princess Tutu and Gankutsuou!

Awesome job, as always! Here's what I'm curious about 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.

Get crackin' on that, and remember to send any and all questions and responses and long-winded politically-charged diatribes to answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! See you next time!

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