Hey, Answerman! - But is it Art?

by Brian Hanson,

Ah, it's good to be back! Thanks again to Mr. Zac Bertschy for pitching in while I was waiting nervously in the lobby of a theater. Directing a play is hard, tiring work. Worth it, though. One more weekend and then it's all over. Then I can finally sleep.

Questions, henceforth!

Hey Answerman!

I'm a middle school teacher who wants to show One Piece at our after-school anime club. Here's my question - Would you consider Usopp to be a non-PC character like Mr. Popo from Dragonball? I don't think he's meant to be black, but I would love a second opinion from an adult One Piece fan.

What? No. No! No way.

I was always under the impression that Usopp's cartoonish, tube-like mouth was meant to underline the fact that he is very obviously based on the Pinnochio character - what with his outlandish lies and troublesome cowardice. He's supposed to look like a puppet; a beady-eyed, cylindrical oaf. Racial stereotype he is not.

I mean, don't get me wrong; One Piece isn't exactly sacrosanct in its portrayal of ethnic characters, Usopp should be safe from any potential political correctness fallout. I can say that because 4Kids, in preparing their "treatment" of the show for a similarly young audience, made no (major) cuts or alterations to Usopp's design or demeanor. If Usopp can survive the whitewashing and sanitization of 4Kids' expansive butcher room, I think you'll be just fine.

I have a question that's been sort of bugging me for awhile now. I lurk around DeviantArt a lot and one of their major categories are stamps. For a few years I have seen some "Anime is art too!" or "I am an anime ARTist" stamps and check them out. In their descriptions I see how they get so much crap from some people who don't consider anime art. I've even had a first hand experience with someone in my drawing class who claimed (while looking at me) that anime isn't art. So my question is: Do you consider anime to be art? Why do you think so many people consider anime, or should I say, anime STYLE not to be artistic?

Short answer: are they saying that "anime art" in general sucks? Like, anything drawn in Japan or drawn to look like it was drawn in Japan isn't art?

They're just being dicks. Of course anime is art. Animation is art. Drawing comics is art. Anime and manga are both art. Plain as day.

Long answer: anyone drawing anime-inspired art, or anime "fan art" in particular, has a difficult mountain to climb to be taken seriously as an artist. The internet is filled with garbage anime-inspired "art" produced by "artists" who've done little more than copy a few character designs from Naruto and Bleach and InuYasha without any regard for anatomy, depth, and composition. That is not really "art" in and of itself.

I'm a cartoonist myself; I don't think of myself as an artist. The cartoons I draw aren't "art." No way. I don't wish to sully the good name of art with the stuff that I draw. I draw as an exercise in creativity, and that's all. Sometimes I even show my drawings to other people! Most of the time, though, they stay in my notebook or get thrown in the recycling bin. Not to throw any stones from inside glass houses here, but I kind of roll my eyes when I see people describe themselves as an "anime artist." Really? Because I take the term "anime artist" to mean an artist whose work is actually featured in an... anime. Why not just call yourself a fanartist? I know it's sort of a dirty word, considering how much terrible awful brain-destroying fanart is out there. But there's some pretty kickass fanart out there too.

Basically what I'm saying is that, in a sick sort of way, I can understand why someone would say something like "anime isn't art!" in a situation like a drawing class. They're under the (incorrect) assumption that, given all the terrible "art" by "anime artists" that's sitting like a fecund pile on the internet, the whole of "anime art" is the same style of character, the same doe-eyes, the same sharp angled facial features, and the same big hair and goofy clothing copied from Bleach and Dragon Ball Z. That stuff lacks the urgency and personality of actual art.

That said, what kind of massive dick says "anime isn't art" right to your FACE like that? What a fully-rounded ***hole. You should kick him in the throat.

Hey Answerman,

I'm sure by now you've had your fill of defending legal streaming anime, but there are always new concerns to address. So today I'd like to ask you about fan-service as it relates to streaming anime. As you know many studios self-censor their shows for broadcast so they can sell more DVDs by offering edgier fan-service.

Now, when an anime is licensed for streaming we usually end up with the watered down version - and without any promise of the title making it to DVD in the R1 market. (Or in the case of Juuden-chan, Crunchyroll streamed a censored version when the uncensored version was already available). Personally, as an anime fan and a lover of fan service, I feel that fans who stream legally are being gypped, especially if DVDs aren't released in their market, and that this only gives pirates one more rationalization to use unauthorized sources.

Do you think the powers that be will make an effort to rectify this problem? I can see several ways that it might be addressed... but I'm not certain that CR or Funimation would be willing to put in the effort. What do you think?

Well! Setting my own issues aside for a moment (just after this moment here where I say that I find most modern fanservice anime to be insultingly idiotic, pandering pablum that grows increasingly irrelevant each year - okay, that moment is now over), you are right - the big issue here is that you legitimately cannot have access to the sweet, succulent nectar of uncensored fanservice you crave. That is a problem. I won't deny that.

I can say for certain that Crunchyroll and Funimation DON'T take some sick delight in depriving you of fanservice. Nor are they selfish prudes who bristle at the notion of bare cartoon breasts and panties. Showing an uncensored version of something like Juuden-chan on an official website with only a wimpy little age-gate to separate children from hours of animated nudity is a Public Relations nightmare waiting to happen. This is also a problem. Not to mention that, typically, the Japanese studios have a finicky habit of sending ONLY the censored versions to US licensors. Juuden-chan is the exception, here.

Really the thing that would help this little bit of licensing gridlock is for the companies involved to realize that, if something like Juuden-chan were released on DVD uncensored, it would sell. That's a hard thing to prove, but without proof, companies like Funimation aren't likely to expend the effort. There's also the ever-present problem of Japanese publishers worried about "reverse importation" by Japanese fans, looking to ignore their countries' exorbitant prices by importing US discs. And considering that Japanese DVD sales are the entire reason most fanservice shows exist, it's a nasty hurdle for any US company looking to invest in an American release.

To put it simply, it's the sort of thing that doesn't have any easy answer. It's a complex problem that's only likely to have an imperfect solution. I'd say that the industry is watching the sales of Queen's Blade and Strike Witches very, very closely right now - if those two shows manage to sell, it'll totally open the floodgates to a literal haven of uncensored fanservice glory. And so, once again, it all comes down to one little yet important thing - support. If you support the kinds of shows that you like, you will see more of them.

Oh, what the hell, one more question. I've got time.

If you could become any female anime character who would it be?

o jocund inbox
your lustre bespeaks, with no uncertain breath
a silly question, wrought with err of judgment

i am a screen writer and i have some story lines, log line and quries for my screen play. can you guide me in the right direction to send my work to, i have some that are anime based also. thank you for your time and concideration.


As a struggling screenwriter myself, I may not entirely be the biggest help, but I will definitely share a few lessons that have helped me as I'm starting out!

The biggest lesson I can give is to strike just the right balance! Make sure your script is clear in tone and idiosyncratically your own! That said, don't discard any advice from, say, Robert McKee's "Story" right out of hand! Wh-...




Answerfans is back! Hurrah! So put your very best brain on, shine those conversation shoes, and ponder mightily this question that lies below:

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.

Off I go to finish up the final week of You Are Not Special! A Brian Hanson joint. Remember to stuff answerman (at) animenewsnetwork.com full of your questions and Answerfans answers! I'll be back in half a fortnight!

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