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Hey, Answerman!

by Brian Hanson,

Hey everyone! It's good to be back in my natural desert habitat and writing this here Answerman-thing. Maryland and DC were nice, but holy hell is the weather there just absolutely awful - I'm used to 100-degree heat, but I'm NOT used to sweating so much in the humid air that I feel like the Swamp Thing.

Now let's get on to the real meat of this thing, because I still haven't recovered from the trifecta of jet lag, a bad cold, and a nasty sunburn!

Dear Answerman,

I recently went on a shopping spree and bought the Excel Saga manga (since I loved the anime). I bought volumes 1-21, sans vol 5, 7 and 8.

I figured the comic shop must have run out or something, so I tried to track them down via Viz's website, and much to my horror volume 5 was priced at 99.99 dollars. Whereas, vol 7 and 8 weren't even listed on the site.

Lo and behold I find both of them on Amazon for 45 dollars for volume 7, used. 150 dollars for volume 8, new. AND 135 DOLLARS FOR A USED COPY OF VOLUME 8 !!! (volume 7 doesn't even have new copies).

To put that ridiculousness into perspective, 3 volumes fetch a higher price then 18 volumes. 2 times the price of 18 volumes, if I wanted them brand new.

Obviously, these volumes are out of print, which brings me to the question: Why leave these volumes out of print? The following volumes are still being printed (like I said, 1-21) Doesn't leaving these volumes out of print deter readers from continuing the series? Shouldn't they have a higher priority? Since, from what i gathered, these volumes contain important plot points. The scanlations only go up to volume 4. So the only way to get them is to pay an obscenely high price. Is it really that cost efficient to leave them as is, forcing the reader to seek other, less legal methods? Do the recent layoffs from Viz have anything to do with it? Or are there other factors at work that I'm not aware of? And should I hold out for another print run, or count my blessings and bend over for Amazon?

Welcome, friend, to the nightmare that exists for anyone trying to get ahold of the sixth and final volume of Dark Horse's print run of Otomo's Akira! Finding a new, pristine copy of the book will run you somewhere around 200 bucks; finding a copy that's torn to shreds and covered in stains and dust and sorrow will still cost you around 60 dollars.

This sort of thing is actually surprisingly common in the print industry, and especially common in the comics industry. There's a number of reasons for this sort of thing, and I can't say specifically which of them apply to the curious case of Excel Saga; sometimes the consumer demand for specific, intermittent volumes significantly outweighs any of the others for various reasons, causing a huge scarcity. But the most likely scenario is that, simply, volumes 5, 7, and 8 weren't printed in the same quantities as the rest of the series.

Publishers don't have any specific metric in mind when they establish a solid print order for a volume of a long-running series. Each individual volume is printed to match the orders they've received from major retailers (your Amazons, your Borders and Barnes & Nobleses) as well as direct marketers (like Diamond Comic Distributors, who handle the orders for local comic book shops), and their own internal projections. I.e., how much the last volume sold versus the volume before, and things of that nature. Because those numbers fluctuate, it's not uncommon for a few volumes to become quite scarce and, therefore, extremely pricey.

Now, should you bend over and begrudgingly accept the wallet rape of opportunistic second-hand book dealers? I, myself, am a patient man, and I have no problem waiting for a reprint. Of course, the burning question is, will there be a reprint? Who knows, really - considering that there's still two more volumes of Excel Saga before the series is complete, I'd say that it's certainly not impossible, but the manga market's been shifting in odd ways lately, and Viz's recent layoffs don't inspire confidence.

All that said, I'm sure Viz is quite aware of the demand for those specific volumes, and not a dime of those astronomically overpriced second-hand sales goes towards them, so the ball is entirely in their court on this one.

Hey Answerman!

So far, Hollywood has had a pretty bad track record of turning anime into feature films. Speed Racer, Astro Boy, and Dragonball Evolution being horrible flops doesn't bode well for future movies like Cowboy Bebop. But my question isn't about anime based live action films! No sir, what I want to know, is why doesn't Hollywood make a live action anime based TV show?

Clearly, shows like Lost, 24, Mad Men, and Battlestar Galactica show that viewers still enjoy a good show with actual plot and well developed characters. Yes, some of the anime action would be hard to do, but surely taking an existing TV show, animated though it is, and turning it into a live action TV show of the same length should be easy and profitable? I'd love to see something like Ghost in the Shell be a live action show and I personally think it would work out great.

I agree with you wholeheartedly - adapting Ghost in the Shell into a mainstream-friendly Hollywood movie is going to be rather difficult and risky, but it's something that would really shine as a weekly hour-long TV series.

The problem, though, is with the ridiculous budgets these shows would require to be made in the first place. Lost, 24, Mad Men, and Battlestar Galactica are/were very popular shows, sure, but aside from a small handful of other shows, what other hour-long plot-driven dramas of that caliber are there? Not very many. Those shows were expensive risks, and luckily they all paid off, but they're a rare and delicate species. Battlestar Galactica, great show that it was, teetered on the edge of oblivion for years because it was so expensive. TV networks would much rather slot their time with safe, predictable, low-budget reality show garbage and lousy sitcoms.

Remember when the Sci-Fi Channel planned to make a live-action Witch Hunter Robin series? No? Because it was so expensive and time-consuming, it never got made. Sadly, the only place in Hollywood that is still able to get the budget necessary to "properly" adapt an anime is in the movie industry.

I want to start this off by saying that yes, this is an overreaction (hopefully), but I am still curious.

Does the news that Funimation is creating anime versions of popular American titles effectively mean the end of licensing Japanese works for them? The reason I ask is because what need would you have for something like Soul Eater if you could just create your own content that might be popular? Also, what implications does this have for the Japanese anime industry at large. And no, I am not apart of the "I HATE WESTERN CARTOONS" crowd, I like both, so I'd hate to see the latter simply stop existing. Anyway, that's my overreaction about cartoons.

That's probably a bit of an overreaction, but I can't exactly blame you for coming to that conclusion. Question: What was Funimation's biggest hit on DVD recently that wasn't called Dragon Ball? HINT: It starts with "Afro" and ends with "Samurai."

But, I wouldn't worry too much about it. I think Funimation's decision to literally take matters into their own hands is an interesting one, but in case it's not obvious and I need to spell it out, animation takes quite a while to make and is quite expensive, so there's a limit towards how many of these projects Funimation can simply afford to produce and how frequently we'll be seeing them. Yeah, I mean, if it were simply cheaper and faster for Funimation to produce their own material, then that's it, anime is done and dead and over with. Luckily for us, it's still a lot easier for them to dub a pre-existing anime property than to go about and produce an entirely new one.

On the subject of these forthcoming properties themselves... I'm intrigued, but a little cautious. Afro Samurai was flashy and fun to watch, to a point, but completely forgettable otherwise. And I'm worried that Afro Samurai's success means that's about what we'll be getting - shows that are stylish and violent and based around comic books and celebrities familiar to the 18-24 male nerd culture crowd, but have little else to offer. And Funimation has a real opportunity here to take advantage of some of the best talent the anime industry has to offer, talent that's either languishing in obscurity or drawing vampire moe girls to pay their rent. I mean, how completely mind-blowing would it be to see Funimation hire, say, Masaaki Yuasa to direct something? I know, wishful thinking, but hey.

What up, peoples! No good Flakes this week - unless you count somebody looking for a new home for their Yorkie Terrier to be Flake-worthy. I don't quite feel that way. So, onward and upward to the grand spectacle that is Hey, Answerfans! Before I left for the East Coast, I posed you all this question:

Otakon-goers, be on the lookout for Susan's magnum opus:

It's interesting...my involvement in the fandom has grown quite a bit, while my actual anime viewing has gone significantly down. One would think it would have been the opposite. Cons are the big connection for me. I go to roughly 3 a year and it really is a feeling indescribable to somebody outside the fandom. Suddenly you're not the only weirdo in the room.

I go by an anime inspired screen name all over the web, my forum avatars and aim icons are always anime. But the biggest connection to me came when I got into amv editing about two years ago. It was the first time I actively contributed something to a con...so I felt much more a part of it. Plus it was an odd feeling watching audience reaction and thinking "I MADE this... I made this and people are ENJOYING it". It really makes me feel a part of the convention rather then just an attendee. I made editor friends and we'd go out to lunch at cons and talk about our time vampire of a hobby. It's gotten to the point now where I've clocked in countless hours working on a multi editor fan parody for Otakon...which will be my biggest contribution to fandom at large yet.

...and oddly....for all the connection I feel to the community at large I really only watch 1-3 titles a year nowadays. And with the exception of a keychain or maybe anime inspired shirt, my fandom doesn't much leak out into my normal day to day life.

Sorry, Lucy, Phoenix Comic-Con came and went while I was sweatin' up a storm on the other side of the country. Next time you got an exam, though, fill a dude up:

My opening statement: eh.

I don't feel particularly connected to the fandom, but I don't feel ostracized or anything. I browse through forums, go on this site (awesome, by the way), and actually buy manga/anime. I can be called an anime fan, even a bit of an "on-line otaku". I just don't connect to the outside world much with my obsession.

Yeah, living in a small town in Arizona with 800 kids at the high school and only decrepit old people outside of it doesn't help. My high school just got a little anime club, but only 6 or 7 of the 40 of us have seen anything besides Bleach and Naruto on Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon, and half of those are hardcore shoujo fanatics *shudder*. It saddened me when our foreign exchange student from Argentina, whose second language is English, had an easier time reading the subtitles than some of our native speakers.

Part of my feeling of separation probably comes from the fact that I've never been to a convention. I know, I know, the ComiCon is coming to Phoenix on the 27th. Brian, I give you full permission to pull a ninja and bail me out of my Final Exams. Actually, I beg you!

Something has always prevented me from coming to cons, whether it be school, family, or even the lack of friends to go with. I've got a small amount of friends to go with now, but they have the same problem as I do this year.

And I think until I go to a con, something will prevent me from really connecting to the fandom I love so dearly.

I dunno, torinostu351, you seem like a pretty relate-able dude to me, hombre

As an almost 40 year old man who enjoys anime, I find it hard to relate to most groups of people. I like music and talk music. I like cars and talk with car guys (and girls). I go to church and play music there and fit in well. And I love Star Trek, but find I really like the tech more than the stories, so I don't relate well with other Trek fans sometimes. But I also include Anime in about half of what I watch or surround myself with (as evidenced by my previous "Shelf Obsessed" submission). This kind of throws me in a bit of a corner socially.

So I always felt like, "Well, at least other anime fans kind of get me." And some of my friends do get me. They also enjoy anime, cosplay at the local convention (I do not) and seem to keep up with some of the same shows I've seen or watch. But when I go to con, I don't feel like I fit in. I like shopping, seeing some of the panels, watching some shows, etc., but I still feel like an outsider. And I think it's mostly the age. My friends are great to include me and they find me fascinating, being older but still knowing what it is they are talking about. And I appreciate and enjoy that.

But recently, I've discovered that even my perceived "Well, at least other anime fans kind of get me" statement is crumbling. I've discovered that some of the shows I really like are somewhat shunned by 'experts' or long time fans. But I'm a long time fan, right? I watched Star Blazers, Speed Racer, Robotech . . . Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun . . . Akira, Wicked City, Jin-Roh . . . and I've collected my Ghost in the Shell, Elfen Lied, Haruhi and Haibane Renmei. But now I find I'm persecuted for liking Clannad and K-ON!? What in the world?

Even in Anime, I now find myself mentally defending things I watch just because I find them amusing or entertaining. Trying to figure out what's okay to like or not to like by listening to the 'experts' online (people who have been to school for film or radio or art) only frustrates me. I find that I don't fit in with the anime culture as well as I thought.

Or maybe I do? Maybe because I'm not as vocal about it and don't engage in flame wars in the forums (which I hardly read), I don't know what the fan community at large is all about anymore. I just hear what the podcasts say and read some of the articles and then try to figure out where I fit. And the answer is the same as always: where I feel most comfortable, doing my own thing. Yes, I hate being lumped in with "moe fans" and I'm not even sure anyone really knows what they are talking about when they toss that term out. Yes, I get frustrated when I talk to younger anime fans and they haven't seen Evangelion or Cowboy Bebop or Akira. But in the end, I go home and watch what I want to and disconnect from the "fandom" because for the most part, it's like a leech that will suck all the fun out of what I enjoy.

Does that make me cynical? Perhaps. Or maybe I've just listened to one too many anime podcasts and realized I don't really have a place there.

Patrick and I are gonna talk about Irresponsible Captain Tylor out back, so don't wait up:

As a fan of anime for around 15 years, I would say that at this point I feel very disconnected from the anime community as a whole. Since I'm no longer in high school or college, I don't have the time or patience to follow everything that goes on in the anime scene anymore. I have a job and a life apart from my hobbies, so I don't feel the urge to troll through message boards and discuss shows ad nauseum like I used to, and due to that, I no longer "get" what most younger fans are into nowadays. Not that I'm griping about it, I just understand that I'm no longer the target demographic for anime, so what is being released in America now is not meant to appeal to me necessarily. I still watch anime, old and some new, and enjoy what I view. I'm unapologetic in my unabashed love for '80's and '90's anime and since I now have the disposable income to afford it, I like going online or to local stores to purchase anime and manga. The fact that I often choose to purchase shows like Armored Troopers Votoms or Fist of the North Star is just further proof of how far out of the loop I am.

Anime and manga is a hobby (and yes it's a hobby, not a lifestyle) that skews very young, and even though I would still be considered a young guy in the American comics and Sci-Fi communities, I'm an old man when I go to conventions. So it shouldn't be that odd for someone of my age to not get the moe thing, or to pine for the days of hand-drawn cell animation. But the anime community will continue to evolve, trends will come and go, and there will still be people out there wondering when the fandom passed them by. Eventually, most people get left out of the loop, and it's nothing to be concerned about, we just need to realize that for many of us, our time has passed. But even though I couldn't tell you a thing about what's new in anime, I can still talk your ear off about Irresponsible Captain Tylor, and I'm okay with that.

Cherie is, simply, content:

I feel only mildly connected to "fandom" - - - I became a loyal fan of anime because I noticed how much I enjoyed it when watching some on TV. I had no clue, at that time, that anime fans were forming clubs and planning to organize and/or attend conventions. So, my deepening love of Japanese animation developed independently of what anyone else thought.

Though I have intentions of attending some conventions (mostly for viewing previews and, of course, for being able to buy merchandise I may not usually be able to find or collect), it is not something on my "have to do list". I am happy enough to read up on new manga and anime online, and my collections will increase with or without interaction with other fans.

Gerli included a post-script that said, "I bet you'll never be able to pronounce my name correctly." But HA! The joke's on you, Gur-lee, because this is an internet column and I don't have to pronounce squat! Anyway, here is your well-written response:

The word "fandom" has always struck me as something.. distant. Let me explain.

In Japan, you've got millions and millions of people all dying to dress up as their favourite anime or manga character and discuss all the newest developments at school or even work. I think it's somewhat the same in the States and other bigger countries. Even if you don't get the chance to talk about it face-to-face you can rant it all out in a forum or your blog. And in the case that you're a tr00 fan perhaps you'll dress up as Sasuke and take pictures of yourself in front of your parents bedroom mirror and later share it on some cosplay site.

That's nice, right? You can always share your views and "be part of the fandom". Well, I don't live in Japan, neither do I live in the States or any other major country. In fact, I live in Estonia. ( Go, Google Map! ) With a population of 1,3 million people, well, let's just say that there aren't so many anime fans here. Sure, I've had 2-3 friends who adore anime throughout the years, but they've all been male! (I'm a girl myself.) And they have the courage to call themselves real anime fans just because they've watched Naruto or Pokemon?!

I find it kind of hard to relate to the "fandom" when there really isn't a fandom to begin with. I guess I'm left with taking pictures of myself as Paako in front of my bathroom mirror and NOT posting them online (since I'm not really a forum-loving person).

Pity me now, you who have anime friends living right next door.

Grey finds Fandom to be a state of mind, an ethereal thing:

I believe fandom to be a complicated question. It defines the identity of many, as fantartist, fan fiction writer, blogger or cosplayer, or simply just an opinion about dubs versus subs. But I don't believe it always has to be overt. Sometimes I think it is just a direction that pulls many into the same flow of ideas as others, and bands them together.

My connection to fandom starts a little over eleven years ago when I was an impressionable teenager talking to a friend I had just met about this tv channel called "Cartoon Network." It was my friends that drew me into the culture of anime watching and manga reading, followed by the sheer outburst of creative work that lurked on the internet. However, my participation in fandom always remained very calm; I did not write fanfiction, or post on forums, or even talk much on livejournal or other sites about the latest episode. I rarely stayed up to date with the latest releases, nor waited with baited breath for the next fansub, or just 'had' to have something. News about new releases and series mostly passed me by, as well as the most recent dramas. I drew a little bit, but in a casual manner, and shyness kept most of my work from where a large circle of fans would see it. In many ways you could say my connection to fandom has always been small, and I tend to lurk more than I post or speak or put myself in front of crowds.

But I went to my first convention only three years after being pulled into a group of friends for whom anime drove them to do all these things, and I have not spent a year since without attending one. Conventions were suddenly a place where I belonged, even if I was not 'hard core'. Every conversation was charged with an air of excitement and joy that still brings me back year after year. I was just a fan, one of many, but I was amongst others who found joy in something silly that they loved, and that drew me out more than any other venue I had ever been in. It opened a gateway to talk to people and meet others who, in my personal experience, have ranged the gamut from beautifully mature and well informed people, to well meaning and excitable personalities, to the sometimes off-putting, but it was people I would have otherwise never known. Many are still good friends today, and we still talk about what initially brought us together -- but we also have grown to enjoy each other outside of a fandom context, and they are some of the most beautiful people I happen to know.

Even more importantly, all this anime made me intrigued by the Japanese I heard, the real names, and all the edited bits. Not exactly a purist, I hunted down what I could find about what the industry had changed in translation, in an era when names were often completely rewritten (for those that remember Ronin Warriors aka Yoroiden: Samurai Troopers, it is an excellent example as Seiji was made Sage and two characters switched names nearly entirely, amongst others), and finding out more about the story meant hunting the internet for a few enterprising souls that spoke Japanese and imported books. An already strong interest in international affairs and languages had an outlet and a direction, and the more I became academically involved in the process of translation and cultural exchange that anime and manga helped carry, and all the mistakes made in both, the more I intellectually became determined to help do something about it in a grander context.

Today, I speak the language, I attended school abroad in Japan, my creative life is enriched and informed by people in the fandom and productions thereof (including a keen interest in photography connected and informed by cosplay), and I've even been dragged out into the sub-world of cosplay and all it's particularities as a place to craft and perform with others. My connection to fandom is through what and, most importantly, who it has introduced me to, and in that my connection can be called very deep. A large part of who I am is defined obliquely by my interactions with fandom. So even if I am a quiet, still voice on the internet in terms of the fandom experience, and I do not rush to Torrents or DVD shelves or even particularly keep up with the latest series (I would say I've only watched a handful in the past few years, and fewer to completion) I am still very much an anime and manga fan. You may not guess it from me on the street, or point it out by looking at my everyday life, but it is there in the person I currently am.

Ben still has a bit of catchin' up to do, or maybe not:

For me, I've always felt like I've been one step behind the rest of anime fandom. I didn't know much about anime until February 2000, when Gundam Wing debuted on Cartoon Network's Toonami block. (Dang! Has it been ten years already?!)

Five months later, Tenchi Muyo aired its' first episode on that same channel and block. From there, I started consuming what all I could, starting (foolishly) with Samurai Shodown and Tekken, yet eventually moving up to titles like Mobile Suit Gundam (the original movie trilogy and the 0080 and 0083 OVAs), Neon Genesis Evangelion, The Slayers, Those Who Hunt Elves, Escaflowne, and so forth. (All thanks to the late Purple Potamus Video- thank goodness for an independent video rental store with a vast array of anime.)

And yet, as of 2001, while I was wrapping up my runs on Trigun, Outlaw Star and The Big O, other people were talking about stuff I hadn't even seen yet (like Love Hina). Undaunted, I continued to dig through anything else I came across, but eventually, I became burned out shortly after wrapping up the first third of Rurouni Kenshin. After an extended break, I was pulled back in after watching the first episode of Yu Yu Hakusho on Adult Swim and continued to march forward. Then in 2003, I saw the first few episodes of Naruto at Otakon and realized just how far behind the curve I was compared to the rest of anime fandom. Having never watched a downloaded fansub, I knew it would be futile for me to try and keep up at this point, so I simply carried on with the titles I wanted to see, not what everyone else was watching. To this day, I don't regret having made such a decision.

Nowadays, while the majority of anime fandom is munching on the latest FMA Brotherhood episode, consuming Hetalia and Vampire Knight left-and-right, and yammering about the latest scanslated chapters of Bleach and Naruto, I'm taking my sweet time with lesser-known titles overlooked by others too hooked on the "latest, shiniest, flashiest thing" to even notice. Sure, I can hold my own if someone talks to me about Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist and Naruto (provided they're talking about the manga and not any of the anime filler episodes). The moment when someone decides to brag about the latest "phoned-in" chapters of Bleach (not that I'd know anything about Bleach's current arc, mind you), however, I either try to change the conversation or split before I find myself awash in spoilers.

While I may not be the spry, action anime addict I used to be a decade ago, I still enjoy showing other anime fans lesser-known titles, be they anime, manga or Sega Saturn games, whether it's at an anime convention, an anime club or Anime News Network's "RTO Reader's Choice" or (shameless plug) "Hey Answerfans!". And sharing with others is possibly the greatest gift anime fandom has to offer... well, aside from checking out hot cosplayers (but that's another topic for another time).

And now, putting this whole thing into perspective, Keith has strong bonds:

I've been into Anime/Manga since I was 13, First anime I watched was Inital D, From that day I started collecting, watching, an interacting with other anime fans. I attended conventions, group events, an even formed the first anime club at our high school.

I feel a great bond between other anime fans, We share a common interest, an when you meet at events, most of the time it's a very fun and enjoyable time. Everyone gets together, everyone shares there likes/dislikes. (some forget to bathe) It's just a all together good time.

I feel connected with other fans, an this connection has started many friendships that have lasted me nearly 10 years. I'm now 22 and in the Military. Yet I still have kept the bonds I've gained with my friends through the anime we share.

This is how I feel connected through Fandom.

Great job, everyone! And now for next week's little questionnaire:

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.

Thanks again for reading, and now I'm off to cough and hack and wheeze up a storm of mucus! Remember to send all those burning nuggets of question-y goodness to answerman (at!) animenewsnetwork.com! I'll be back next week!

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