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Hey, Answerman!
Touchy Subjects

by Brian Hanson,

What's this, what's this? I'm on schedule and not running embarrassingly late? How odd.

This week's questions are a bit on the long side, so let's just hop right into it:

Dear Answerman!

I read your response to the question about the literary merits of anime and manga, and I know a lot of people enjoy many series for its "thinking" material and for the exploration of themes, thoughts, beliefs and emotions that are usually associated with the great "literary canon" (such as Ghost in the Shell and Eve no Jikan for its philosophical merits and storytelling devices).

Just recently I started reading the Gunslinger Girl manga and watched the first season of the anime. Even though I've been aware of this series for a very long while, I've put it off because my initial reaction to the cover art was, how shall I say, off-putting. It didn't help that it started to become prominent when the anime/manga fandom started getting a reputation for "lolicon-love" either. But a lot of people kept telling me about how "deep" the series was, so I finally gave in, and in the end I have to agree that it is actually a pretty good series.

But it also raises the question: what's the literary justification of the sexualized portrayal of young women, and when does it cross the line into bad taste or being outright offensive? Is it dependent on the quality of the work? The most common argument for Gunslinger Girl is: it's a very important and integral part of the work, as the young and pretty female protagonists serve as a shocking contrast in order to build up pathos and make an emotional connection. But is that proper justification, or is that even true given the admitted lolicon tendencies of its creator? Is it just because they're young girls and we're supposed to find them adorable, or is it because we're drawn to the character designs of Triela and Cleas (look at who gets a surprising amount of screen time in both the manga and anime and look at who's most popular in the fandom) who have a lot of "moe" or otherwise attractive characteristics (dark skin, long pigtails, "meganekko" glasses etc.)? Is THAT crossing the line?

I also know that a lot of people's perceptions of Gunslinger Girl are hurt by the inclusion of these themes too, especially when they look at the aforementioned characters (especially Triela) and assume there's some sexual subtext behind it. Would it be better off if it didn't have such young characters then, or would the emotional/intellectual substance of the work be compromised by that? Or what about a series like Girl Friends, which is thematically centered on the relationship of two young women, which many people agree is a surprisingly touching and more or less tasteful look at high-school romance and grounded, realistic tribulations of a same-sex relationship (at least in Japan) compared to Kodomo no Jikan, which pretty much everybody agrees crosses the line? Do either have equal merit, and is it none at all?

I know the subject of lolicon is a touchy subject, and given a certain previous Flake, I know you know that quite well. But given how prevalent it is in certain fandoms, and given how many content creators in Japan love to pander to these fandoms, I think it's something that'll probably need to be addressed sooner or later for us Americans. Especially given a work like Gunslinger Girl, or even Girl Friends, how should we accept or reject such sexualization?

This sounds fun! I'm sure that whatever I say on this subject won't be used as some symbolically pejorative scimitar to skewer me elsewhere on the internet, no matter what side of this supposed "argument" I fall into! Ah, well. I'll man up. I'll answer this.

You mention the word "fandom" a lot in this question, and I'll just get that part out of the way: I kind of hate the word "fandom." It sort of implies, to me at least, a certain set of traits and characteristics you are "meant" to embody if you enjoy a piece of genre entertainment, rather than just enjoying the work on its own merits. I really love watching "The Secret of NiMH." I know there's a specific and vocal "fandom" surrounding that movie, but hell no I'm not part of any "Secret of NiMH" fandom. It's a movie I loved watching as a kid and as an adult I think it's one of the lushest, most gorgeously animated films of the latter 20th century. Being a big fan of underground hip-hop and strange indie music means that I have to put up with the "fandom" of the obnoxious Pitchfork Media douche-tacular crowd. Really, the "fandom" is just that - a collection of like-minded fans. It has absolutely no bearing upon the quality or the intent of the original work the "fandom" exists to celebrate.

Relating this back to Gunslinger Girl: that was a show that was aimed at a much, much wider audience than the usual moe-gobbling lolicon crowd. It certainly caters to that audience to an extent, and that's of course evident in the "fandom," but the story itself - as you yourself said - is much broader, much smarter, and much more interested in creating actual drama and pathos than simply stoking the fires of fanservice pandering that the "fandom" audience usually requires.

It's been a while since I've seen Gunslinger Girl, but my experience was something similar. I thought the idea itself was completely icky. Cute, young moe-girls being brainwashed into becoming cold-blooded killers? What kind of sick mind would find that entertaining? And then, upon watching the show, I noticed there was a certain amount of restraint and delicate care - some would even say "tastefulness" I think - in how it was presented. The fact that the moe girls weren't eager to flaunt their underpants to the camera every few minutes definitely helped, but also the fact that there was an actual story and an attempt to create a small semblance of character, instead of drawing one-dimensional archetypes and having them shoot people, definitely made the show rise above it's own intrinsic "ick" factor.

(Unfortunately I can't say that much else about Gunslinger Girl, as the rest of the show I thought was kind of overwrought and dull. But, hey! It didn't make my skin crawl! Hooray!)

I haven't seen Girl Friends, but if it's as authentic as you say it is, then that's fine. That little thing called "taste" is the saving grace, here. I don't particularly care, really, if a popular mangaka or anime director has a penchant for little cartoon girls; so long as they can find a tasteful, appropriate way to introduce their little fetish into their work without it being odd, creepy, or jarring. Tarantino loves him some ladies' feet, but I'll give the man credit for trying to write credible ways to fit barefoot women into his movies. R. Crumb was a sexual deviate with a litany of odd fetishes a mile long, but he also invented an entirely new language in comics and helped birth the idea of the "Graphic Novel." It's weird if you're looking for that stuff, but it's done tastefully enough that if you're not looking for it, you'll never notice. And that's the key to this thing.

Shows that are done explicitly to pander to the lolicon crowd - what up Chu-Bra - know exactly that they live in a dimension without pesky things like "standards" and "story" and "quality," and luckily for them their audience doesn't particularly care for any of that stuff either. So long's they got their masturbatory material for the evening. Luckily for us Americans, those shows have proven to be monumentally depressing failures when they've been marketed in the US - what up Popotan - so those things tend to stay in Japan and waft westward through fansubs alone.

To wrap up my long, rambling answer - yes! Yes those shows have merit. They have merit because they are not entirely devoted to the idea of leering and lusting after animated underage girls. They have stories and characters, and the sexual undertones and handled subtly and tastefully. Comparatively, perhaps, but it's far from as blatant as what seems to exist as the standard in this industry.

Hey Answerman,

Is there a reason for a shortage of companies that put out yuri or shojo-ai? I mean seen a few yaoi manga companies like JUNE and BLU, even DMP has one I think I was called 801 Media. But what about those of us who enjoy a good old yuri? To my knowledge the only company that does something like this is Seven Seas Media and they're not strictly shojo-ai or yuri like JUNE or BLU. Is this to say that there is just a shortage of fans of yuri or are we simply outnumbered by fan girls of the genre?

I seek your knowledge Answerman to help other yuri and shojo-ai fans like myself.

The lack of Yuri manga? In the US? This, my friend, is purely a problem of demographics. As scanlations still continue to gnash away at the profit margins of many a manga publisher, the option most of these publishers face is to focus on the one demographic that still manages to bring in the sales - younger audiences.

For some reason or another that I can't explain, be it psychological or what, but... Yuri fans skew older. Older male, specifically. Not exclusively, mind you - I'm sure there are quite a few young and female fans of Yuri, I'm sure they exist, so don't bother sending me any mail that says I AM A YOUNG FEMALE FAN OF YURI HOW DARE YOU DISCOUNT ME, because I'm not. The problem is that publishers discount you, because there simply isn't enough young-ish Yuri fans in the traditional demographic charts (12-17, 18-24) to make releasing a dedicated Yuri label worth the risk. On the contrary, Yaoi and Shonen-Ai are practically dominated by a younger audience, and specifically a young female audience, so that's a jackpot. Teenage girls are what is practically keeping the entire publishing industry afloat in general right now - THANK YOU TWILIGHT AND NICHOLAS SPARKS - so a dedicated label for Yaoi and Shonen-Ai makes perfect business sense.

As with any commercial product before it's sent to market, it has to undergo a strict cost-benefit analysis. And sadly, manga sales amongst an older male audience has been on a sharp decline since the mid-2000's, and Yuri is sadly part of that specific demographic.

It's strictly business. It has nothing to do with content, perceived homophobia, or anti-moe sentiments. For once.

Hey Answerman,

After attending AnimeNEXT, Anime Boston, and Otakon (also being an staffer for Otakon), I am really starting to lose interest in the anime con experience and hoping to get your opinion and thoughts of it.

Reason why, it's just attracting too many non anime fans who want to just walk the hallways bunching up in group screaming "BUTTSCRATCHER", wearing cosplays which have absolutely nothing to do with anime (Jack Sparrow is great for Halloween, but what does it have to do with anime?) and people with their raver gear. Why do anime cons even have the dance/rave and someone please tell everyone that it is not a rave and by calling it a rave does not make it cooler. Its a dance which plays techno Japanese electronic music which for Otakon this year can you really even call it a dance, it was more like a mouse trap because of the hugely overcrowded amount of bodies and body odor.

At all the cons, all the Japanese voice actors attract no people at all, but for example the Cosplay Burlesque had hundreds upon hundreds lining up to see people stripping which again what does it have to do with anime? Are you serious no more than 20 people came to see Masao Muruyama? And you wonder why no Japanese guests want to come to anime conventions anymore!

Not go on an Otakon bash because I love Otakon but it definitely isn't the same as it was 5 years ago. Now its all crowding the hallways and doing everything but anything remotely involved with anime. Is this how anime cons are going or do you see them going back to the more traditional cons where people would watch anime in video rooms, get excited for licenses, and actually cosplay in anime costumes. I personally would be more than happy to get rid of the rave, lose 3,000 attendees who do more trouble than good and have more traditional anime fans than the kids who wear their Tripp pants, glow sticks, and goggles. Maybe this would lessen the chances of a repeat fire alarm pull. How long until someone gets raped or overdoses at the dance till things are seriously looked at?

Just an anime con rant, maybe I didn't get too much sleep but for me, my favorite anime con memory from Otakon was hearing about the second Evangelion license and hearing the voice actress of Nova from Star Blazers. I probably will be in the minority compared to most where their highlight was who could get the most "I LOST THE GAME" responses.

Breathe, breathe. Remember to breathe.

Okay, well. Ask yourself this question: After the badge fee, the hotel costs, and the general expense of your time are detracted, ignoring EVERYTHING ELSE about the perceived crappiness of the underage 4channers - was the experience worth it, even still? Was attending the Funimation panel and seeing your favorite voice actors and checking out the dealer's room worth the travel and the time and the expense? Remember, ignore all that other stuff about the other con-goers.

It's an important question to ask yourself, because, as much as you seem to loathe these kids and their ways, they're here to stay. They've found a fun place to hang out with like-minded socially-awkward souls and shout catchphrases and dance stupidly and attempt to have sex with each other. That's their convention experience. It might sound awful and trite to you, and to me, but it's great for them. I know it sounds impossible to imagine that young kids acting dumb and having fun may not see the value in a voice actor from Star Blazers, but, again, that's their convention experience.

Meanwhile, ALSO IN OTAKON, is another convention experience. Yours. One that's filled with panels and workshops actually related to anime, one with video rooms showing Zeta Gundam, one with a dealer's room overstuffed with Votoms model kits circa 1985, one with big licensing announcements from the big anime companies. That's what's so great about big cons like Otakon - they get not just one or two segments of anime fans, they get the whole thing. Yeah, the dances and the burlesque shows draw the big crowds from the kids - how else are they going to see actual live breasts? On a real live lady? In person? - and the actual panels and anime-related events draw in a small percentage of those crowds. At least those panels and events are still there. And they're not going anywhere. Otakon is staffed by people who love this stuff, and they program the kinds of things they themselves want to see. The Dances and the Masquerades and Nudity Celebrations are there because they also understand that they have this big crowd of paying customers, little 4chan-spouting turds though they might be, who want and need those things. They have a lot of fans to try and please, and if your own letter is any indication, they rarely seem to succeed; that's the nature of nerd-dom, I guess, to find immense fault in the things we love the most.

And, hey, this is a good question to pose to the readers. Keep your eyes peeled below for the Answerfans question, everyone...

And Now; Wherein Our Author is Asked to Identify a Piece of Pornography~

Hello, I search the name of this anime. Can you help? Thank you

[insert link to illegally uploaded streaming video of early-90's bondage hentai here]

Alright, here we go with Answerfans! Unlike last week, I got a hell of a lot of responses to this here question:

Danny embraces our cold new technological future:

US broadcast television has the tendency to devour and rip to shreds many concepts the human brain can possibly understand. In regards to anime, it coexisting with US broadcasting has been like an unwanted juxtaposition. I personally dislike turning on my TV switching on over to Adult Swim, and sometimes the Sci Fi channel to watch anime. I finished watching the second season of Gundam 00 on the Scifi channel. The anime was great, big fan, but sitting their diligently waiting for all the commercials to end to get back to ultra cool trans-orbital Gundams was painful. Cliff-hangers anyone? Hands down i would rather stream video anytime then watch it on the tele. Being a multitask junkie, that works for me with probably five tabs open at a single time. A google search introduces anyone to their entertainment needs. The US broadcast system, in my opinion, is not as versatile as the intertubes. Obviously. In the end, streaming by far outplays any attempt the US broadcasting system had in anime exposure. Streaming video is great, easy to use, and available.

John is hip to the streaming jive:

I have never, ever, forever-evah, consumed anime via broadcast television. Not since the internet caught up to my needs in the post Sailor Moon era anyway. Broadcast televison is intrinsically tied to the 20th century; that is, we're different consumers now than we were before and we have different needs. I don't want to block my activities around catching stuff at 2am, or any time for that matter. I'm not even willing to watch it in my home all of the time. Furthermore, anime is in the business of entertaining a very select audience today perhaps moreso than ever; that of the Japanese youth. In the words of the Angry (yet poignant) Otaku: "you DON'T matter". If there's any salvaging to be done of those of us who're still up for this generation of anime it needs to work in harmony with our lifestyles and in that respect streaming delivers. The next stop? iPhone apps.

PillowDork is out there, keepin' an eye out for the new fans:

Of course it's still necessary to gain fans by promoting shows over television broadcast. Now there's a broad number of people in the United States whom are still dumb about what anime is, and those folk don't always learn about it from word of mouth. Considering a lot of fans of anime tend to stay in clustered groups and don't talk about their interest unless within the small mass of people that they've aligned with to discuss the topic. Or well, unless they are asked about it...then you get a really long drawn out explanation about it and good series to pick up and watch.

While streaming video, for the most part, has taken away a small chunk of viewers from the normal television set, I believe that without some form of anime media being thrown into the daily programming no one new will be able to pick up on it without word of mouth or taking the time to actually look for it. And we all know how fast paced our world is today, and how impatient people are...So that's not really a viable option unless you are a die hard fanboy or girl.

Calvin says if you build it to where we already are, we will come, maybe:

I haven't watched anything on broadcast TV in years. Come to think of it, when one of my housemates left, he took his TV with him. At least I got to keep my stereo system... and my computer monitor's big enough to watch DVDs from the couch.

I really do think that I'm the exception; at least for now. There's still a lot of families raising children right now whose parents predate the Internet generation. And people tend to avoid change if they can, so there's still children growing up watching broadcast TV. As long as that's true, it's still a perfect fit for Anime or any other medium that has a component targeting children.

The thing is, I think it's best a fit for programs targeting children or teens. Some American TV stations have proved that they can still hit elsewhere: programs like House or Chuck or Mythbusters or Lost come to mind. But these are very broadly targeted, and have extremely large fan-bases. For something as niche as Anime? Trying to compete with that sort of blockbuster on TV stations doesn't really make sense.

Keep the kids stuff on TV, at least for now. It's got an audience. But the rest of us know how to find Anime on the Internet: market it to us there! Targeted advertising for Anime series on media that seem have a common audience, like gaming, combined with streaming or download-to-own (no DRM please!) options are probably the best bet. (I'm a collector at heart, streaming is a little too ethereal for me. If I'm spending the bandwidth to download and watch something, let me save it for later too.) But I'm a computer scientist, not a marketing agent.

Damnit Mel, now I want Fruit Loops:

This is one of the few questions I feel qualified, as a teenager, to answer. Stereotypically, I have a short attention span and a love of free things, which makes the internet ideal. However, when I watch television shows online I really find it too self-indulgent to form any sort of emotional attachment to the storyline or characters when I always have the option to pause it and come back whenever I feel like it. It doesn't breed any sort of interest in me when it is always available. Sure, there have been anime titles I really liked that I watched exclusively online, but for the most part it just isn't the same.

I guess my answer is already obsolete, because I have basic cable and not DVR or TiVo or anything, but for what it's worth, I kind of like it that way. When I find a show I like, I have to wait for each new episode. The anticipation is the best part for me. Then, I have to make absolutely sure that I am home. Even when I'm watching it I have to fidget through commercials. That's the process that really hooks me on a series. I have so much more time and effort invested in it. Streaming may be great, but staring at my glowing monitor will never beat lounging back on the couch in front of my big television.

I first discovered Cowboy Bebop while I was eating a bowl of cereal and watching tv at around one in the morning after an away game for my high school football team (I'm in the marching band). I just stumbled upon it for a lack of anything better. But it became a sort of tradition for me most Fridays (We had a lot of away games that season). Sure, it was over a year before I saw the episodes in the order nature intended, but I have more fond feelings for that show than any I saw via streaming. To this day, I can't watch Bebop without craving Froot Loops.

Lianna's faith in human boredom is without question:

Anime on TV is probably MILES better for recruiting new fans than streaming. If someone is bored with the TV on in front of them and the only thing that looks even slightly worth watching is an anime series, sure, they'll watch the show. If someone's bored with Hulu open on their computer and they can't find anything to watch but an anime series, chances are they're not going to watch the anime, they're going to find something different to do. People tend to go to streaming sites knowing exactly what they want to watch, but TV is different: people will watch anything on it if they're bored enough.

Robert enjoys the convenience and availability of streaming content. Who knew?

I think anime has had it's heyday on broadcast television. The reason is simple; availability. Back in 1998, when adult swim first started, anime just wasn't available (legally) unless you bought DVD's or watched it on someplace like Cartoon Network. And anime occupied some of the best timeslots; the 4-6 PM had Toonami, there was anime on saturday nights (in the form of Adult Swim), and it was so popular on there because unless you wanted to shell out $20 for a DVD, you didn't have any place to get it. Today, that isn't the case. Crunchyroll, Hulu, The Anime Network-even ANN streams legit copies of current anime. And people can watch it whenever they want. Can't be up for the new Naruto at 5am? No worries-Crunchyroll streams it, and it's available whenever your little heart desires. Viewers are no longer pigeonholed into time slots where they can watch anime. Which brings us to another advantage that streaming has over broadcast; just the sheer amount of anime that's out there. Broadcast can only play a certain number of titles. It makes sense; they have to have time to fit their other programming in. Not so with streaming titles. Think of how unpopular sports anime is in the United States. Who would have the timeslot available to broadcast Cross Game? Yet Viz is streaming it. There will always be a place for broadcast anime; but it's time as way to hook new anime fans was over long ago.

Patrick approaches this from a more business-minded view:

The future of anime on American television is dependent upon two things. One, whether Japan produces material suitable for the family-friendly orientation of US "cartoon" television and two, whether US TV manages to survive the next couple decades or transition to the Internet as the primary distribution system.

Firstly, US TV still suffers from the comic book code mentality that all animation should be child friendly. Canada and many other countries also subscribe to that mentality. And if you look at Saturday morning TV, at least on ABC, NBC and CBS, whatever animation does appear is only watchable by pre-schoolers. FOX, which use to be a major Saturday outlet for anime, has now abandoned all it's Saturday morning animation but still carries Sunday night animation far more offensive than most anime. That leaves the CW as the only outlet for anime on Saturday morning.

Since the traditional animation locations on the basic cable dial are thin, one has to turn to specialty channels such as Cartoon Network and the like. But even these channels still prefer family-friendly content. There are a couple specialty pay channels in the US, but these tend to appeal to those who can afford to buy DVDs and don't need to rely upon TV for their anime.

That means that if Japanese animation is even going to appear on US TV to any reasonable degree it must fit with the moral demands of the US broadcasters. And very little of Japan's animation at this point seems to be capable of meeting those requirements. So it's not that the US is unwilling to run anime as much as Japan not producing the material the US would find acceptable.

Secondly, when it comes to the future of television in general, there is a general feeling amongst both broadcasters and the public that the Internet would replace traditional broadcast systems. There are still some advantages to broadcasting, especially when you consider that markets they affect. Broadcasting reaches a local audience while the Internet reaches in international audience. As such there will always be cause to support the broadcasting system.

But let's say the Internet does take become the new TV. In many ways anime is ahead of the trend. While it has been possible to find US TV shows legally online for a few years now, the selection is limited. However, the amount of anime on the Internet has boomed. There are generally more anime shows available online than there are US animated shows, let alone prime-time shows, online. And what US TV content does get released online is often limited to being available for a few weeks at a time. Many anime series appear in their entirety, or at least up to what has currently been broadcasted. But technological changes are a generational thing. It's hard to find anyone under twenty today using newsgroups. If the Internet does take over it will take some time.

So whether US TV carries anime may only be of consequence for the next ten years. TV is simply a distribution system. The Internet is a distribution system and it's cheaper than traditional broadcasting. But it's the people who consume TV shows that will determine the course it takes. Personally, I don't own a TV anymore. Rather, I have a TV card in my computer and watch all my TV using the computer and can use the computer's TV card remote to control the viewing of the non-streamed material. (It would be nice if the ANN player could handle Hauppage programming, but that's another matter.) Whether I get the content from broadcast or the Internet doesn't make that much difference. And as we see more computer/television integration in the future we could see the issue becoming irrelevant. As long as people have some source for anime they won't need to worry about who carries it.

Greed1914 says nothing much has changed, move along now:

Do I think that streaming anime has replaced anime on TV? No, or perhaps more accurately, no, not yet. Anime on TV isn't totally irrelevant when it comes to getting new fans, and honestly, I'd say it's still ahead of streaming video in this regard. Anime on TV still has the upper hand in that a person can just passively give it a try when it's on. Streaming video, on the other hand, requires that the person deliberately seek it out. They have to go to the site, and then search for a show, and perhaps wait for it to buffer. And most importantly, it requires that the person is AWARE of it. Right now, anime companies are pinching pennies, and that means that marketing dollars are spent in places where it's safe. I see plenty of ads for anime on ANN, but if I venture over to IGN for game and comic book news, I see nothing. I'm not expecting to see them spend money for ads on ESPN, but I also don't see them even advertising on Hulu. People aren't just going to arbitrarily go to Hulu, go to the animation section, and scroll through a bunch of shows that they know nothing about. At least with TV, a person channel surf and see it. So, streaming probably will become the way to get new fans, but it's going to take a strong push from the anime companies for that to happen. Anime on TV is practically dead, but without a stronger marketing effort, streams aren't going to reach much beyond the existing fans.

Closing this week's Answerfans efforts, Morgan's well-written little essay on the subject nicely touches on both sides:

I think that anime on broadcast television could produce drastically better results than streaming for generating new fans, but it gets crippled by the networks themselves every time that they try it. It gets almost universally relegated to horrible timeslots, typically starting no earlier than 11pm at night, and with the exception of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block (at least when they decide they still want to show it), it's usually either buried in some obscure cable channel that caters to anime fans or lovers of Asian cinema, or it's only broadcast piecemeal, at seemingly random times. I remember in middle school one of the movie channels (I'm pretty sure it was the Starz Action channel) started broadcasting 3 x 3 Eyes. I was hooked, but they broadcast two episodes a week as part of an Animidnight block, promising that for the summer they would broadcast two episodes every Monday. They broadcast the first OVA, and then with no notice, just dropped the programming block for a couple weeks. Then they randomly decided to pick it back up about a month later, again without any sort of "Hey, if you liked this show last time we ran it, we're finishing it up, so tune in."

If it's not on a horrible timeslot, it's usually got one of two other problems. The first being that it's normally on a network you have to ask for and pay extra to get, that caters specifically to niche markets already close to anime's fanbase. The Anime Network or G4 showing something (well, they used to...) lets people who already like it see some cool shows they might have otherwise missed, but it doesn't do much to attract any new fans, which is something the industry desperately needs going into the future. The second issue for shows with good timeslots ties in to why I don't think streaming will be much help at generating new fans. If it's on a network most people have, at a reasonable hour that working people don't have to be insomniacs to be up at, it's nearly always a kiddie show. Naruto, Bakugan, Pokemon, and One Piece are the sort of shows you see running in prime time slots on networks with a wider audience. Sure, they all have their merits to their fans, but they do nothing to buck the misconception of anime as kiddie fodder from Japan, and not something adults spend time watching.

Streaming, on the other hand, will not generate any significant new fanbase that wouldn't have been otherwise brought into the fold by friends who are already eyes deep in things. The vastness of the internet is a marvelous thing, allowing an endless assortment of content to be presented side by side. But when you're trying to promote a type of content that at best occupies a sizeable niche market, it works against you. Ignoring Bleach, One Piece, and Naruto streams for the moment, how many people are going to search out a site like Crunchyroll without first having a healthy interest in anime in general? Now how many of those people are going to take the plunge and buy a subscription? Now, those three huge shonen titles are great, but compared to the amount of content out there, they're a drop in the bucket. And there's no guarantee that the people googling "Bleach Streams" are going to wind up on a legit website.

I think broadcast television has the greater potential of the two to bring in more fans, but only if it's properly done. So long as network executives in charge of assigning timeslots keep saying "That's foreign, and you know, it seems a bit depressing. Best stick that in the midnight slot on Mondays, it probably won't get very good ratings." they are going to continue having self-fulfilling prophecies. If you had a quality series with nice localization, like GitS: SAC, it wouldn't seem all that odd to me as a follow up to, say CSI or Burn Notice. As it is, the networks shoot themselves in the foot by giving any show with decent potential at garnering a teenage to adult audience a bad timeslot, and pandering to stereotypes by putting kiddy material in their decent anime slots. And while streaming seems to me the better of the two ways for tapping the existing market and winning them back from fansubs, I just don't see it drawing in many newcomers and keeping them who wouldn't have belonged to this small corner of geekery anyway given time.

Man, I love it when all the responses are so very nuanced and informed with more than just an opinion. I dig it. Let's see what happens, then, when I spring this little question on y'all:

Now you've got this week's question, and it's time to get answerin'.

For those of you new to Hey, Answerfans!, I'll explain the concept.

Believe it or not, I'm genuinely curious what you think.

That's right; as much as I love the sound of my own voice, I do love to listen to what other people have to say on a subject. I'm finding that over the last few years, the attitudes, reasoning and logic that today's anime fans use eludes, confuses or astounds me; I have so many questions for you, and I'm dying to hear what you have to say in response.

Welcome to Hey, Answerfans!

Basically, we're turning the tables. Each week I'm going to ask you a question, and I want you to email me your answer. Be as honest as you can. I'm looking for good answers; not answers I agree with or approve of, but good, thoughtful answers
. People feel passionately about these subjects and I'd like to see that in the responses I get. I'll post the best answers I get, and maybe some of the crappy ones. Sometimes there may only be one or two good ones; sometimes five or more. It all depends on what I get in my inbox! Got it? Pretty simple, right? Start writing those answers and email them to answerman [at] animenewsnetwork dot com.

We do have a few simple ground rules to start with.

Things To Do:

* Be coherent.
* Be thoughtful.
* Be passionate.
* Write as much or as little as you feel you need to to get your point across in the best possible way.

Things Not To Do:

* Respond when the question doesn't apply to you. For instance, if your email response starts with "Well, I don't do whatever you're asking about in the question... " then I'm going to stop reading right there and hit delete.

* Be unnecessarily rude or use a lot of foul language.
* Go off-topic.

That's all for me, then! I'll be around next week of course, so make sure I've got good material to work with by sending stuff to answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com!

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