Hey, Answerman! Back In Inaction

by Brian Hanson,

Whew! Sorry for the rather unexplained absence last week - I spent the day moving boxes in and around my new house while waiting eagerly to hear back from my mechanic so I know just how broke I will be when I get my car repaired.

Yeah, it's been a fun little week. Anyway! You had some questions, I think, so let's get to 'em:

I know you get a lot of questions from people who want to know how to create their own anime/manga, or become a manga-ka in Japan, or how to work for a Japanese animation studio (I myself asked such a question when Zac was still running the article). But after reading your column last week, I suddenly had another question:

Since you've already established that it's very difficult for an American to make an anime in Japan, why don't they try doing it here? Or I suppose I should ask, why do people insist on wanting to make anime specifically? I'm sure there's nothing wrong with trying to ape the anime-styles and whatnot, but adding your own twist to it as well (Teen Titans already does this, and Incarnate...ok, very bad example). Even if a bunch of writers and artists got together and just started drawing stuff and putting it on the web somewhere for free, at least it's better than waiting until some far-off opportunity to go to Japan comes along. In fact I'd like to know why people don't try to form groups like this, or make it easy for writing talent to meet drawing talent (I know there are places like Craigslist, but those tend to cater to people hoping to do it as a profession or for compensation rather than just as a free expression of a hobby or a build-up to a career).

Yes, yes! Oh God, yes! That is EXACTLY what I've been saying this whole time.

You are absolutely right. The sad truth is that it's exceptionally difficult for any anime to be made just on it's own, at least as far as what we typically consider "anime." Every once in a while somebody like Makoto Shinkai comes along and whips something together on his own that'll shake things up a bit, but by and large anime is a product cobbled together by committees and executives and fancy studios with big budgets that aren't too likely to be swayed by your Hunter X Hunter knockoff or whatever.

So, where's all the Makoto Shinkai's of America? And I don't mean simply "independent animators" because I am a huge nerd for cartoons and I know where to find quality indie animators; but where's all the folks out there who are very specifically trying to make their own Japanese anime? We live in an age where you can buy a scanner or a drawing tablet for under a hundred bucks, where you can download free or almost-free audio and video editing software that's capable of outputting a professional-looking product, and where anybody with a home computer bought in the past 5 years can do all of this on their own. So, again, where's the Makoto Shinkai US equivalent?

Judging by the amount of email I get alone, I know for a fact that there's a vast and eager network of fans who're almost dying to work on their own anime-inspired projects, but outside of fanart and AMVs I haven't seen very much of it. Of course there's a tremendous and commercially-viable market for manga-inspired Western comics published by fans, but I'm just curious why it seems to stop there.

But then of course, the obvious answer to that is: nobody probably has the time. Even the crudest and most amateurish forms of animation that clog the arteries of YouTube took more time to complete than people are likely to want to invest, and for anything as ambitious as making an anime-inspired animated piece, I can understand why people might be a little scared of the workload.

Piffle, though! All it takes is a small handful (or less, even!) of anxious, eager, talented people to pull something off, and I'm totally hoping to see it someday. Consider this the auto-response for every "how does i work in anime" question I get from here on out: Make your own, damn it!

I just finished watching the Air Gear series, and loved it. But the ending was very bad. I figure that they stopped making Air Gear because of lack of popularity when it was first introduced? But now, I know at least in America, Air Gear is VERY popular. Me and all of my friends love the series. Is there ANY way that Air Gear could get re-launched? At all?

Well, sure, Air Gear is popular among "your friends," but it certainly wasn't very popular among, uh, everyone else. When it comes down to it, there's really only one certain way for companies to really see how "popular" a commercial product is: How well it sold.

Obviously I don't have the Videoscan numbers in front of me, but I know that Air Gear's R1 DVD release wasn't quite the hit everybody was expecting. I'm sure it wasn't a bomb, either, but I doubt it was enough to grab anybody's attention to the point where they're calling the Japanese producers, demanding a second season.

The show aired and ran its course four years ago. It's done. The Japanese fans had their fill of the show, and the American fans didn't buy into it with sufficient numbers to cause any concern for making a second season. Sounds kind of dour, I guess, but money talks in this industry. If you want to keep seeing the stuff you like, then you have to make sure people are buying the crap out of it.

But hey, at least you're still getting the manga! Which is better, anyway.

Hey Answerman,

I read this news after I came home from school: http://www.heatvisionblog.com/2010/03/warner-bros-prepping-film-adaptation-of-bleach-manga.html

I thought Tite Kubo didn't want a live-action Bleach film. Did Warners promise him that the film was going to be faithful or did he sell his soul to them?

Yuck. Normally, I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to Hollywood adaptations of things; I always get a little irked when people rant and rail about how Hollywood "ruins everything." Really? Because for one thing, the TV show/book/cartoon/whatever they're adapting is probably far, far from sacrosanct in the first place, and that especially goes for Bleach. And also, I know enough about film and the film industry to know that bad films get made usually by accident for a variety of reasons, and "LET'S RUIN THIS NERD THING TO MAKE NERDS REALLY MAD" is never one of them. It's all about the people involved in the process of producing a film and really bare-bones stuff like the quality of the script and such.

So, the Akira movie? I'm game for that. The Cowboy Bebop movie? Sure. The Ghost in the Shell movie? F*** yeah. But... Bleach? Produced by Peter Segal, director of "50 First Dates"? Dear God. I think my gray matter started to leak.

Anyway. Why is Bleach being made if Tite Kubo didn't "want" a live-action film? Well, to be perfectly honest, I don't think Kubo himself is going to be terribly involved in the process of the movie, and I doubt that he's even being consulted at this early of a stage. A Bleach movie is far from a sure thing at this point, considering that Warner Bros. is still only "in talks" with Viz Media. But yes, I'm sure Warner Bros. probably assured Mr. Kubo and Shueisha that any adaptation they make will be "faithful." They always say that. And though I doubt Kubo readily offered his soul to anybody at Warner Bros., I'm sure he wouldn't be so proud as to reject any kind of financial compensation they might be willing to offer him. Which would be considerable, of course.

So in essence, it's a little from Column A, a little from Column B. I think Kubo mentioned that he wasn't too "interested" in making a live-action version of his work mainly because I doubt he was ever seriously approached about the subject. Until now, anyway. So... on the off chance that a live-action Bleach movie actually gets produced instead of languishing in Development Hell on a studio lot in Burbank, and on the off chance that that movie doesn't suck after it's produced, let's just relax and possibly maybe enjoy the surefire boxoffice success that might one day be Bleach The Hollywood Movie.

Oh no.

hi could i use some of your video on a youtube account named [deleted]? i really wont take any credit i just want to be able to make videos. i love naruto so could i please use some video of it for my choji video? thanks.


Alright! It's time once more to scrounge together all of your responses for another rendition of Answerfans! Last week, I threw a pretty light pitch down the middle:

Ashley, tell us how you really feel:

I feel that many of the elements of anime and video games are the same. Going beyond gameplay and skipping straight to storyline in the RPG genre, gamers are looking for characters with personalities that are realistic or admirable. My personal reasons behind enjoying RPGs is it is like stepping into the anime and being able to live through some of the actions of the characters. It is easy to get sucked into the storyline of an RPG and feel that you're not only fighting with a video game character but your archenemy as well however this time instead of watching, you get to experience the battle. On the flip side, it's always nice to be able to step away from the controller and watch a storyline progress without the stress of being stuck on a boss and not being able to continue the adventure. Fighting games are a little different. The gameplay of a fighting game is what directly relates to an action genre anime. There's a lot of action and strategy involved in fighting games and (as in real life) you may fight the same battle with different outcomes. Fighting games do not usually have much of a storyline because most of their fanbase focuses on gameplay that is not only enjoyable, but looks cool while they're playing it. I think Dragon Ball Z is a great example of the anime equivalent of a fighting game. Although Dragon Ball Z does have an enjoyable storyline, it is very action packed and most watch it for the battles within the anime. It is, again, like watching the fighting that takes place on your console in a tv show. I think that's why Dragon Ball Z has done very well as an anime as well as a fighting game. Both anime and video games allow you to explore another world outside of what you know in every day life. I think if you're into anime and have never picked up a video game you may want to try it out. You may be pleasantly surprised!

R.J. dissects the demographics thusly:

I'd say there is overlap between anime fans and video gamers because there is quite a bit of overlap between games and anime in general. It's no coincidence that RPGs tend to inspire anime and vice versa because so many involve a plot that could easily be used in either medium. In fact, it was this overlap that actually helped me get into anime to begin with. In Metal Gear Solid, there is a character who goes by Otacon because he is an otaku and he drew inspiration for his creations from mecha anime. He also has the following line: "Who are these guys? It's like one of my Japanese animes." I figured if my favorite video game series made such strong references to anime, I ought to try it out and it was certainly worth it. So, I would say there is overlap among fans because games have been influenced by anime for years.

I think you are kind of resentful there, Jason:

Because they're both Japanese!

Okay perhaps that's an overly simplistic answer, but I think there's a lot to it. I think the main thing you have to look at is the artwork. You'll notice that for Japanese games where the artwork is not so anime-esque, there isn't nearly as high a correlation between the fandom liking anime as well. There's a good reason for this, and I don't think it actually has anything to do with wanting to play the game because it has anime artwork. It has more to do with a tolerance for Anime Artwork.

I think we can all agree that the majority of the population in the English speaking world often automatically turn themselves off Anime due to the whole "Big Eyes Small Mouth" and general dismissive attitude. I think this is the default attitude everyone has, as it's basically unfamiliar and foreign. This means people are likewise dismissive of games and Animation done in the Anime Style. If one starts to watch Anime through some random event then they might start thinking that Anime is good in spite of the Artwork. After that as they perhaps watch more of it they might even start to like it. Either way that barrier that stopped them from playing those games in the first place has broken down, and they might be willing to try it now. Likewise it can work in reverse, with people trying Anime styled games, growing tolerant to Anime art that way and later giving Anime a whirl. Liking one makes you more open to liking the other, basically. Otherwise most people like neither. You'll notice that the JRPG that is most successful in the west (Final Fantasy) is the least clearly Anime Styled. I think that there's a good reason for this. However in Japan Dragon Quest, which is more anime styled in general has always been more successful.

That and most people who play such games or watch Anime are both Girlfriendless Nerds (I'm not resentful).

Patrick has a simple thesis: We All Be Nerds:

Well, there are several reasons that gamers and anime fans overlap. I think the major reason there's an overlap between gamers and anime fans is that either can be a gateway into the other. If someone likes RPGs, they may have started out with Final Fantasy, or Dragon Quest. Or even Pokemon. Pokemon is actually the best example, as it was a game first, and then a show. Someone playing the game gets caught up in the setting or the imagery and wants more. Since there aren't enough games to fill the hole, they go, "Hey, this looks the same. And it's a TV show." And then they get hooked. It works the other way as well. Someone who like anime wants to play as those characters, or something similar, to see how they would handle the situation.

Another reason, perhaps less so, is that anime and games tend to attract the same kind of folks. With some exceptions, if you're a fan of RPGs (Western or Japanese), you'll probably like anime. If you're a fan of hack and slash games (Like God of War 3) you might like Bleach or DragonBall. If you're a fan of fighting games, you might like some of the "tournament" anime series. And so on. Now, tastes may differ, this isn't a hard and fast rule, but it works.

Thirdly, some people who've been in the trenches for a long time (Like myself) hungered in our youth for entertainment that wasn't the same bland stuff. Video games were the start, with the Atari 2600. Anime came on the heels of the success of Transformers and He-Man. Robotech did well, despite the storyline not making sense after a while (At the time, we didn't know it was several series mashed together.) It gave us entertainment that wasn't boring, and treated us as adults-in-training, not kids.

Finally, there is the friends factor. If you have friends into video games you like, who also are anime fans, chances are they're going to have you watch a few episodes of something. If you like it, they'll feed your addiction. If you don't, they might have you try something else. It's like a virus. It keeps trying until it gets you.

As an aside, the same thing you're asking here could also be applied to table-top gamers. I know many people who play D&D who are anime fans. The same with Shadowrun, BattleTech, Star Wars and so on. If you've ever seen the dealer's room at GenCon, you would see that the space is divied up between game companies, costumers, sword/medieval weapons dealers and anime-related booths. Heck, I got my first few anime VHS tapes AT GenCon. So, perhaps the connection is more than just some basic crossover.

BTA_man's cultural assertions are astute:

I think there's a very good reason for the overlap, and it's just how "Japanese" those games are.

That is, RPGs and fighting games are generally made by Japanese companies, and the art and character designs often resemble those from anime and manga. Some series, such as Dragon Quest, have famous manga artists doing those designs. Fighting games, more-so 2D ones than 3D ones, usually have very detailed art that, again, resembles anime and manga. And because of this, they generally appeal more to anime/manga fans, who then try them, and perhaps tell their friends about it, and then that overlap spreads. And if you want to move away from the art aspects, RPGs often have deeper storylines than mainstream Western games, like FPSs (though this isn't always true). Many anime fans watch anime because they have deeper storylines than US cartoons, so a similar feeling could develop towards RPGs.

You can have your moment, Josh, I'll allow it:

As a gamer first and an anime fan second (Although it's a close second), I've wondered about this question myself. I believe the most obvious connection between gamers and anime fans is the Japanese connection. However, there's also some similar characteristics of both, especially the niche genres. For example, over-the-top characters are commonly found in both anime and video games. Also, like anime, RPGs in particular have a more "epic" feel to their storylines than is typically found in American television, where it's odd for the storyline to significantly progress from one episode to another (with a few exceptions). This requires the viewer/player to invest time into the anime or game.

And I think that's the key point. Gamers and anime fans are both obsessive. If you don't watch an anime the whole way through, you "haven't really seen it", whereas you can watch an episode or two of many American television shows and feel like you know whether you like it or not. Anime and video games both satisfy a desire not satiated by traditional American media - Something that involves a high degree of mental investment, while still being enjoyable to participate in.

Also - if I may be silly for a moment - Giant robots and cute girls.

Pingsoni must be a big fan of Dragon's Lair:

I'm an anime and manga fan and also a big gamer. I mostly play console JRPGs like Final Fantasy and Star Ocean, though I also love Harvest Moon and perhaps my favorite game of all time is the PSP version of Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure.

For me the overlap is obvious; it's all about characters and story. The same things that make me stick with an anime or manga series--character development and an interesting story--make me stick with a game. Of course games are interactive, which is fun, and the best ones have multiple story paths and endings based on how one plays the game. (Yes, I also like visual novels!)

I get impatient if I have to do too much fighting or leveling up with no progress in the story or too little character interaction. Hours-long boss battles just so I can make it to the ending are a bummer unless the characters have come alive for me.

There are times when I'm watching anime when I wish I had a controller in my hand and could influence the way the story is developing!

I hope for your sake Cherie that you haven't seen the Dragon Quest anime:

I think at least part of the reason that there is a big overlap between anime lovers and video game fans is that many video games have been adapted to anime. Fans of certain games are likely to be drawn to the animated version of that game, as well. Assuming they enjoy the anime adaptation of their favorite game, this may lead these fans to check out other anime titles. Similarly, fans of an anime work that was based on a video game may check out that game, out of curiosity, and then find they enjoy playing it enough to own it. This interest is likely to lead to enjoying many other video games, whether they are related to anime or not.

Our last response is from Jedi Master, whose name I trust instantly:

The reason for an overlap between anime fans and video gamers is probably the same as the reason for an overlap between anime fans and manga fans. I'm not sure what that reason is, but there's a connection there somewhere.

Alright! Now for next week's question I'm looking for some very specific people, but hopefully I'll get some really cool responses out of it.

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.

Okay then! Remember to keep asking me stuff and answering stuff at answerman (at) animenewsnetwork.com! And next week I don't have to move, so I can NOT be lying when I say that I'll see you next week!

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