Hey, Answerman! Identity Theft

by Brian Hanson,

Alright everyone! Hope you all came back from this year's AX, feeling hale and hearty. Time to get into these question-y things:

First it was the Lion King vs Kimba/Leo. Then it was Atlantis vs. Nadia and Van Helsing vs. Hellsing. Now it's Inception vs Paprika. How do you feel about the latest comparison being made by anime fans?

Ugh. This argument again. Here we go.

The only argument about EVIL DUMB DOODY-POOP HOLLYWOOD STEALING IDEAS FROM BRILLIANT ANIMES that has held any specific water would be The Lion King and Kimba the White Lion fracas. The similarities and elements between the two are impossible to ignore, and it is, of course, rather undeniable that an animation crew making an animated film might've snipped an idea or two (or three, or four) from a cartoon series that was on the air when they were kids. Disney was mum on the issue, and Tezuka Productions basically played an apologist for the ideas and characters that were shared between the two, remarking that "Osamu Tezuka would be pleased" to have been an influence on a major Disney animated film.

Atlantis vs. Nadia? That's a bit of a stretch. Besides, if there's any sort of major anime influence in Atlantis, it would be Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky; Atlantis took several shots from Laputa pretty much wholesale, and the filmmakers admitted as such. Atlantis and Nadia are basically what happens when two animation companies pilfer from the same sort of Jules Verne-inspired source material; and besides, Nadia wasn't exactly available in any sort of complete form until 2001 in the United States, which was the same year that Atlantis was released. So, no to that.

Van Helsing and Hellsing? Aside from the name, there's... I mean come on, now! One is a Stephen Sommers-directed turd sandwich of a mishmash of old monster movies from the 30's, and the other is a stylish and dark action story about vampires and political intrigue in a modern setting. Just... no.

Now, as far as Paprika and Inception? No. No way. Whatever similarities exist between the two films, which none of us really even know for sure if they exist or not aside from just reading the plot synopsis because Inception has only been screened for a handful of critics and NO ONE ELSE IN THE WORLD HAS SEEN IT YET, is purely coincidental.

Really, what it comes down to is... Satoshi Kon and Christopher Nolan are, at the core, pretty similar filmmakers. Both are obsessed with fractured narratives, stories that twist and fold and crash into each other and spiral off in different directions before unraveling to its climax. Both are obsessed with dreams, with split personalities, with the unconscious mind driving people to their wildest extremes. Seriously, watch Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress and then watch Memento and The Prestige... they're all very different films, but they share a certain intellectual curiosity between them on behalf of the interests and ideas from their respective filmmakers.

Honestly, people always like to get up in arms and hem and haw about how Hollywood steals ideas wholesale from anime because we... actually, I don't know. Because we feel like we have to justify ourselves by comparing anime to popular films? I'm not sure. Because finding any potential similarities between Paprika and Inception just feels like such an insane stretch. Paprika is a colorful, vibrant, intellectually stimulating but fanciful film, and Inception (from the looks of it, at least) is a dark, mysterious, brooding, grimy fable of mistrust. The concept of "stealing dreams" might be similar, but that's only because Kon and Nolan both drill from the same philosophical well, the two of them fascinated by the inner workings of the human mind.

Continuing to move away from the topic of scanlations, I'd like to ask a question about licensed manga. More specifically, the localization of licensed manga.

What is it exactly that makes a foreign company decide weather or not to localize a manga? I ask because I'm a pretty big manga fan, and I prefer to actually purchase volumes of a series, rather than read it online, yet there are some series that seem to have been completely overlooked, remaining published only in their native Japanese.

One example particular to me is the PaniPoni manga. Running since 2000 and currently around its 14th volume, yet it is unavailable in English (or any other language for that matter). The series definitely isn't unknown; the Pani Poni Dash anime was localized to several countries such as America, Taiwan and the UK, so why does the manga remain in Japanese?

A similar case is the Red Garden manga. To my knowledge, this has only received an official French Translation/Publication other than the original Japanese, yet the anime itself was imported to several other countries.

Is there some criteria that a manga has to meet before it can be considered for localization? Or is it simply a matter of what companies think that certain countries will like or dislike? If that's the case, is the popularity of the anime taken into account?

That's a great question, and unfortunately, unless I literally called up every single US manga company on the planet and had them spill their insider secrets into how they decide what titles to license, it's not one I can completely answer.

Plus, remember that each US manga publisher operates in their own deliberate way, and some publishers only cater to very specific markets. For example, Viz probably casts the widest net - they've got imprints for big mainstream fare, like Shoujo Beat and Shonen Jump, they have a "Signature" label for more high-minded affairs, and a nondescript label for everything in-between. Tokyopop and Del-Rey go for mainstream-looking stuff as well, albeit from a variety of different sources, while Yen Press prides itself on being the Otaku-centric manga label, and Vertical is pleased to be releasing hi-falutin' manga for a more refined audience. Each of these companies have very different products, and so the criteria for what they decide to license is radically different.

Another thing to keep in mind is the sad fact that, though you tried to steer away from scanlations earlier, scanlations have, empirically, had an adverse affect on sales in the manga market. With less cash to spend on licenses, that simply means... fewer licenses. Fewer licenses means less incentive to take on risks, and a greater emphasis on simply cranking out Volume 12 of Pretty Flower Girl Boyfriend Time or Volume 11 of Dude With Powers Beats Up Other Dude With Powers. PaniPoni is a gag manga, which - eep - is sort of sales kryptonite in America. I haven't read the Red Garden manga, but if it's anything like the anime, I can imagine it is - eep! - rather arty, and nobody likes that. Why read something arty and unique when you can read something dumb and predictable!!

And sadly, no, having an anime release isn't really much of a guarantee that you'll be seeing a forthcoming manga tie-in. Despite their obvious ties, the US anime and manga markets are very much viewed as separate creatures. Born from the same fans, of course, but each have their own specific rules and such. There have been coagulated manga and anime releases where the manga's been a hit while the anime bombed, or vice versa, and everything else in between.

And THEN you have to get into the tricky bit of business wherein the Japanese publishers get involved, and from there it becomes a whole new lousy, complicated ballgame. In case I haven't made my point clear enough, I'll just be blunt about it; it's very complicated, very nuanced, and, at the same time, rather arbitrary. There are no clear-set "rules" about what winds up on US manga shelves and why. Of course, usually you can pinpoint a few obvious titles that are bound to come stateside; whenever Rumiko Takahashi craps out a new manga series, well duh, you'll see that one licensed in a heartbeat. For everything else, though, it's an uphill battle. An uphill battle on a craggy cliff that's quickly crumbling and shaking from the threat of piracy, digital book e-Readers, and the threat of retail bookstores disappearing in a cloud of bankruptcy.

Remember when I asked you about how this country and its people are portrayed in anime? Well, I've got a question for you. Which anime portrayed this country positively? Which portrayed it negatively? And which portrayal is so bizarre that it has to be seen to be believed? So what do you think?

Positively? I'll go with two. My first choice is Kenichi Sonoda's Gunsmith Cats. Not because it actually portrays Americans "positively" - far from it, the two lead characters are impetuous firebrands who make a living killing off assorted scumbags and criminals - but rather because Sonoda's lovely illustrations of Chicago are so lively, fun, and, most importantly, accurate. He set out to make a stylish, sexy take-off of Dirty Harry movies, and Gunsmith Cats is an absolute blast. This is a bit less true for the OVA series, but it's still quite good.

Another positive one is much more recent: Eden of the East. The show takes place in a variety of locales and an international cast, but the US and its citizens feature prominently throughout the show and, shockingly, it gets it all right. This is largely because the show was so clearly influenced by a lot of contemporary Hollywood films, much like Gunsmith Cats was, but hey, I'll take it.

As for the other two? I'm going to have to go with two titles that I know are personal favorites of fellow ANN staffer Justin Sevakis. For the absolute worst portrayal of Americans in anime, look no further than Angel Cop! Much has been written about how anti-semitic it is, but did you know, that according to Angel Cop, the US Government conspired with the Jews to create a powerful secret nuclear arsenal that is literally ready to blow every other country out of the globe at a moment's notice in order to create a worldwide police state that controls every citizen IN THE WORLD!!! Because, I mean, it's not true and it's insane and insulting, but Angel Cop aspires to such insane and insulting heights, so kudos, Ichiro Itano.

For the most bizarre thing ever, definitely check out Mad Bull 34. According to Mad Bull 34, every human being in New York is a crazed rapist drug-addicted criminal and each member of the NYPD is outfitted with a large collection of live grenades to strap to their gonads.

Aw. These confusing emails would be irritating, considering how many of them I get every week, if I didn't find them so sweet.

Please help me if you can! Like a boy I watched some cartoon with 3 robots and 3 friend and I don not know name of this cartoon! One of friends have gun and shot in water an after that robot go out from water, another friend have arrow and shot to the sky and after that robot go down from sky and the last friend of them have top and trow to spin all of them when use their weapon make something like graphite! please tellm me name of thes cartoon!

Convention season is upon us, like a mighty, terrifying plague! Thusly, last week I posed this relevant question:

Candice begins this week's festivities by relating her near-death experience:

Well seeing that I've only ever been to one convention in my 20 years of life, it's not hard to answer this. The first and only convention I went to was Ikasucon 2008 in Fort Wayne, Indiana (huzzah for the midwest). My most memorable experience from it was that my friend and I decided to try out for the "100,000 yen pyramid" which was a take on the classic game show. Without even trying we were amazing and they told us to come back for the show. When it started and they called for me to come to the stage, I apparently stepped on some kind of metal box compartment....thing that was hidden under the carpet and shut off the power for the whole room. After learning nothing worked, they told us to come back in an hour after they fixed the power. Sulking my way back to my seat to gather my things, I overheard some technicians talking about how someone cut straight through the power cord and it was a miracle they weren't electrocuted. Lucky me~ . Anyway we came back an hour later, I went on stage and me and my guest partner were boss (it was Tristan MacAvery and for all those that don't know, he played Gendou Ikari in the english dub of Evangelion). The second round, we switched partners and the new guy sucked so I lost and came in second. I won a robotech soundtrack though. Other then that nothing much happened except for ramune exploding in my face. Even though it was small, all in all I think it was a great first con.

Stan should officially change his name to "Stan the Ladies Man":

To me, Fanime has always been a consistent best convention in California. But Fanime 2010 was the best of all the Fanime I have gone to, for one simple reason: Black & White Masquerade Ballroom dance. This year was most special because of my girlfriend, and it all goes back some months before Fanime. One time, she mentioned that she has never gone to senior prom at her high school. Hearing that, something clicked inside my head. 'Fanime has ballroom dance, don't they? So, Ballroom dance + fancy dress + cosplay + me and her surrounded by other con goers = Awesome replacement for her prom!' So, we planned out on which cosplays to wear for this event (Soul & Maka from Soul Eater in their ballroom version) and with overnight help from one of our dearest friend, my girlfriend's maka dress was done. The Masquerade Ball was held at Fairemont ballroom, and they had florist in front of the door, selling flowers and corsages. I bought a white rose corsage for my girl, but because line moved so quick the florist couldn't secure the ribbon well. I was thinking 'Most of my new cosplay list may have fell through, but in no way am I ever gonna botch this event!', so I improvised and tied the corsage flower around her wrist. Minor fiasco aside, we got to meet few of our friends in there, and made one of them very happy (simply because we were going out). Inside, there was a huge dance floor (obviously) and a screen displaying showing the track list and what type of dance can people dance to the song. There were different types of songs playing, including and not surprisingly Lady Gaga (Just Dance). But, anytime a slow song would come up, me and her would be on dance floor as if we were drifting the night away. Dancing with her was peaceful and it felt just right, almost like time around was slowing down. Needless to say, that was the romantic night neither of us will ever forget.


It was at Anime Festival in Orlando--oh, don't ask me the year! Don't make me go looking up all of summer in my past diaries! I can't even remember which of my most memorable events took place in the same year, so humor me as I bunch them all together. :)

I feel I should mention one bad thing before getting to good highlights. One of the reasons keeping me from going back to conventions (after money) is the parking situation. I drove all around, looking for a spot. I drove unwittingly into a circle of cars, patterned like a cul de sac, and realized in dismay it was almost impossible to get out. I had to inch the car forward, reverse it for a few more inches, and slowly, ever so slowly, turn the car around. To make it more exasperating, a car pulled up behind me, almost pulling into the cul de sac, too, but I managed with hand gestures to make them realize to stay away. Finally, I got out. I do not ever want to have an experience like that again.

In the dealer room, I bought some Japanese candy called Melty Kiss, and shared some with Monica Rial (no, it wasn't a yuri thing). I told her I thought she acted out Natsume's farewell note in "Generator Gawl" excellently. She said she got teary eyed everytime she thought of that scene. Chris Patton was there, too. I didn't know him from anything at the time, though later I would come to know him from "Full Metal Panic" and just about every other anime I've ever watched. I got both of their autographs.

Thinking it an original idea on my part, not knowing it was long established, I mused about hugging guys dressed up as characters I crushed on. But they had to be good. I saw a Spike Spiegel who had the outfit down straight, but the hair not at all. I skipped him. Later, I saw a good Spike. I hung around at a distance, trying to get my courage up (I'm actually quite shy), and finally walked up to him, tapped him on the shoulder, and asked if I could glomp him. He gave his assent, so I did, though true to character, he did not hug back.

Then I saw a cool Vash the Stampede. I asked if I could glomp him, and he looked confused, but said yes. So I hugged him. He said, "Oh, that's what glomping is! I thought you were going to hit me on the head or something." Then he hugged me again.

Maybe I'm confused what glomping is, because on conventions after that, I noticed in the booklet it was not allowed and could get you thrown out. But they might mean tackling cosplayers to the floor with wild abandon, not asking politely if they'd take a hug. I think that should be allowed; it's rather like hugging Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck out at Disney. (When I told my friend at work what I did, she chided me, saying those strangers could've followed me out into the parking lot.)

Well, conventions are fun, though I haven't been going lately, due to money woes and hating the venue, be it the hotel with the cul de sac parking section, or the ginormous monstrosity known as the Orange County Convention Center. I wish I could go, though.

Ashlee reminds us of the true reason for the season - friendship:

My favorite con (and, to this point, the only con I've ever attended) is Anime Central, located in Rosemont IL every May. This past May marked my fifth year, and by far my favorite of the years I attended (even more so than 2008, when I met the main cast of FullMetal Alchemist - I still loved that though!). The main reason was because this was the first con that my best friend got to go to, and it was amazing sharing the experience with him. However, other than this, I loved that year for all the things I got to do. I embarrassed myself for my lack of anime opening knowledge, enjoyed winning prizes over answering a question in the Cliptomania! panel (although the question I answered was from an episode of Soul Eater I hadn't even watched yet - spoiled!), got to meet JesuOtaku and "bond" (it's the best choice of words) for a few moments over matching Vampire Knight shirts, picked up some things in the Dealer's Room I never thought I'd get, and finally got into the Your Favorite Anime Sucks panel - all of it was extremely memorable and made better by sharing it with my best friend. So honestly, 2010 was the best year for me all the way around when it comes to A-Cen - I can't wait until 2011 to see if it can be topped!

Robert relives his moment in the sun:

Since I don't travel all that much, I don't go to many conventions. But, I always make sure I'm able to make it to the one closest to where I live: Anime Central. Ever since I've heard about it in 2005, I've made sure I went every year. As for which year was my favorite, I would say it was this year's.

In ACEN '09, I tried my first attempt at an actual costume: a giant box of Pocky. Needless to say since so many people like pocky, the costume was a major hit. So this year, I decided to do it again.

At the masquerade before the show starts, the staff put on music and filmed various members of the audience. That film ends up being projected onto the screens set up next to the stage. I enjoyed the music that was playing, so while I was in costume, I started dancing. Next thing I knew the entire room burst into applause. I looked at the screen and saw a giant box of pocky dancing around!

Sure there were quite a few other memorable moments such as mourning over the littered pocky boxes, playing Tetris through the crowds, and being attacked hugged by drag queens, but nothing can beat an unexpected moment in the spotlight.

Hakojo shares with us the sort of preciously awkward moment of young love worthy of a Sufjan Stevens song:

Of the conventions I have attended thus far, my personal favorite, or perhaps the most memorable, was this year's (2010) ColossalCon, for two reasons:

First, I kissed someone seriously for the first time. It's probably a mark of failure at life or something that I was 19 when this happened, but it was still kind of awesome. We met up at a panel before the rave, got to talking, and consequently spent a good couple of hours dancing together. When the rave was dismissed early due to a tripped fire alarm (the consensus was that it was a result of changing air pressure, the more drastic effects of which will be discussed later), we wandered around for a bit, and then he kissed me, and it was beyond my ability to describe, exhausted and still glowing from the rave as I was. Also, did I mention that I'm a cosplayer, and that while all of this was happening, I was dressed as Ghost in the Shell's Motoko Kusanagi? Because I was, red eyes and all.

Things didn't really end up going anywhere after that (for reasons that I won't get into here), but I still think that having my first kiss at a con, while dressed as the Major, with a guy who still doesn't really know what I look like without my cosplay on and who will probably picture me as her if he ever thinks about me again, is pretty amazing, and it is a life experience I will cherish forever.

Second, going back to the changing air pressure, we had one of the most scary things that could ever happen at a con happen; a tornado hit. And I don't mean that there was a storm with high winds that could have become a tornado, I mean that one actually touched down, and that seven people in the surrounding area died. I was still walking around with the guy I'd just kissed when some of the hotel staff told us to move down into the basement, and we found ourselves packed in with everyone else who was staying there. I'd come with the rest of my family and was extremely worried about them, but I couldn't call them because my phone obviously wasn't working underground (I later found out that they were in a different basement altogether - the place was incredibly huge). Everyone was very nervous, but there was something quite nice about seeing people who were total strangers to one another huddle together under any blankets they had and sing songs together to try to pass the time and make the situation less scary. There wasn't any damage to the hotel/convention center, fortunately, although the sound of the wind making the building vibrate was incredibly unnerving. We got to go back upstairs at around 5 AM, an hour or so after the tornado warning had gone into effect, and quite apart from finding out that my family was safe and sound, it was a relief to finally take off my wig and remove my contacts - I hadn't had the opportunity to change after the premature end of the rave.

Even though the memorable points of this particular convention weren't exactly positive, it was still something I will remember for quite a long time, plus it makes for a fantastic story, so ColossalCon '10 (or TornadoCon, as they started calling it after the fact), is definitely my favorite of the cons I've attended.

And now, to close us out for the night, is the sort of thing from A.L. that makes people just go "awww."

My favorite convention was the first Kamikaze Con in 2005. A group of my friends had worked for months on our costumes and while we were taking pics when I got a phone call. Turns out a friend who had moved away had moved to Houston and heard that we would be at the convention. We hung out the whole weekend and a year later he asked me to marry him.

Nothing can beat a relationship built on anime!!

Thanks everyone, for throwing all your awkward or charming or sweet or fun memories on display for the peanut gallery! Next week, I've got another question for those die-hard collecting collect-teers:

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.

All of you go out and have a great week, and I'll see you next time! Provided, of course, you keep funneling all your collective questions and answers to my personage via Answerman(at)AnimeNewsNetwork.com! So long!

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