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Hey, Answerman! - Thanksgiving Leftovers

by Brian Hanson,

Ah, hello again! Good to be back. Hopefully everybody had a nice little Thanksgiving vacation, had lots of... turkey. And stuffing. Other nourishingly nutritional comestibles.

Me? Aw, well. Let's just say that spending Thanksgiving day in the waiting room at the hospital is a pretty crappy way of spending your holiday.

And, no, before you all start freaking out, let me assure you that everyone and everything is fine. No worries there. Just a lousy way to spend your supposed holiday, looking back on it.

Speaking of looking back, let's get to your two-week-old questions!

Hi, Answerman!

I don't know if this kind of thing happens in other places, or is it just an isolated case in my country. There is this group of university students that have their own fansub group. Legality of fansubs aside, because that is not what's in question here, the problem I see is that those fansubs are aired on the university's own tv station which is available in the whole country. Even though some series haven't been licensed at all in this region (ex. Gundam 00), others have been legally licensed by other companies for full regional broadcast (ex. Death Note by Animax LA)

Now, I my brother and I were having a discussion about it. He says that since it's a university station, with no ads whatsoever, and the only thing the students gain is course credits, that it's ok. I say that even something like that would require at least a legal permit of sorts due to international copyright laws.

This might be a gray area kind of thing. But I'm curious as to whether it is actually legal in a way or not.

There's no gray area about it - it's 100 percent illegal. People do it all the time and have been doing it for years, but it's illegal.

When I was in high school, I remember staying up late on Friday nights, unsociable nerd that I was, to watch my local Public Access Cable station air subtitled VHS tapes of Urusei Yatsura that were put out by AnimEigo. My local Public Access station, no doubt, had no legal right or reason to air that show. Especially to air the commercially-available version released by AnimEigo. Nothing ever came of it and nobody went after them, though.

Was it legal? In no way. Did anyone care? Not at the time, apparently, but that doesn't float it into the magical world of gray where laws don't matter.

Obviously the situation here is a bit different, in a way - these are fansubs that are being aired, and fansubs that the University station in question semi-endorses, and this TV station in question reaches not just a town but a whole country. So yeah, it's really illegal, and they need to obtain the proper rights for those shows if they want to broadcast them to an entire country.

Now, given the track record of anime companies actually protecting their product and their rights, I sincerely doubt anyone's going to be kicking down the door of your University public-access channel anytime soon, but make no mistake, what they're doing is illegal, period.

Okay, folks! This question is phrased kind of awkwardly so I'm not entirely sure what the basis of his question is, but I felt compelled to answer it anyway. Just wanted to get that out there in the beginning so everybody didn't spend the rest of this column with a dumbstruck "Wha?" expression on their faces.

Hey Answerman,

I just had the weirdest thought: What if they made a law that all hentai characters had to have tails and cat ears? - Would that make all hentai legal since all the drawings therein have subsequently forfeited their imaginary passports to human citizenship?

Seriously, I have no idea what is legal! Some guy may get 10-years for downloading crass Simpsons porn, yet Murakami gets to float fetishized anime toddlers with red lipstick over Broadway in the Macy's Day Parade.

...so, yeah.

For an instant I thought about including this as a Flake, but then I realized that there's a salient point in there, somewhere.

First of all, though: Takashi Murakami danced around the Macy's Day Parade in a big felt flower costume while his Sanrio-on-acid "mascot" characters floated around in balloon form. "Fetishized anime toddlers"?!? No way, dude. (I mean, yeah, granted, some of Murakami's art is definitely a bit on the tasteless side, but no way in f**k would they ever allow that anywhere near the Macy's parade.)

But, hey, I get it - people are worried, still, about the Christopher Handley thing and how the gub'mint will round them up like cattle for all their hentai and cartoon porn and stick them in gulags where they will be forever tormented by Sodomy Goblins just as the sagely George Orwell predicted in his work of nonfiction known as 1984, whatever. I get it.

The intricacies of the Handley case are strenuous and nuanced and difficult to nail down in an intelligent manner without completely derailing this column into territory it doesn't belong in. But everybody's still super worried about it. Which baffles me.

Let's just think on this for a minute. Out of the hundreds of thousands of individuals, every single day, who frequent their favorite image board of choice to procure the latest n' greatest of hand-drawn spank material, who among them has ever been "brought to justice" for viewing or owning these so-called "illegal" materials? Recently? Two guys. One in Australia - the "crass Simpsons porn" you're referencing - and of course Mr. Handley here in the US.

Statistically, that's nothing.

Not to invite the topic into discussion, but yes, I did feel that the prosecutions for those "crimes" were insipid and misguided attempts by overly earnest politicians and lawmakers to take a hard-line stance against child pornography. But hey, let's remember, if we can, that not ALL hentai and cartoon porn is nothing but lolicon and gross Simpsons Rule 34 stuff.

Basically, I'm sick of people feeling persecuted over nothing. You are not Christopher Handley. You are not Simpsons Porn Guy. You are not in jail, you are not likely to *go* to jail, and contrary to popular belief, the UN is not installing microchips in your toast every morning to track your movements and report them to the Illuminati. This isn't a conspiracy. This is just, so far, two guys who got a raw deal over a very sensitive issue in Western culture.

And one last thing: at least Murakami kinda knows how perverse and strange some of his "fetishized" art is, and attempts to make some sort of cultural statement. Creaky though it may be.

Dear Brian a.k.a. Answerman,

Well, if you're reading this, it means you've at least gotten this far, but I implore you to read this whole thing, and to please, if I could have some advice or other help with this. Even if this just makes Flake of the Week, I'd appreciate you reading and responding to this in some manner. I promise you that I'm not going to try and ask you to kidnap a child starlet, or ask you about the soundtrack of a hentai, or troll you about scanlations and accuse you of living in your basement and being twig-limbed, or asking about random anime titles in very incoherent sentences. I promise!

But...I am going to ask you about making an anime or manga...wait, hold on, please! Hear me out!

Now I've been following the Answerman column pretty regularly, way back in the days since Zac had it, and I know the question's been asked a lot. I've read up on all the Answermans where you talk about how to try and make an anime, and a manga, and I know Jason Thompson has covered it too (though since it was outside of his House of 1,000 Manga column I...misplaced the link). So, yes, I know what you usually have to say about it.

I also know you've fielded some questions about the state of American graphic novels/ comics (or at least one or two) and I know there have been a few questions about the quality of anime, and the distinct lack of another Ghost in the Shell in favor of the more moe-centric works, which are losing favor in this country. And I also know that a few questions have asked about domestic manga/anime-like material.

Well, I don't know if I'm going to be able to successfully combine all of that into one mega-question that ISN'T going to be cast aside for Flake of the Week, but here goes, my best effort....

You see, I've been actually following your advice and I have been trying to write a book. And I'll go ahead and add that, as a fan of anime and manga, I guess my book has been a bit...anime influenced. I sent it off to a friend of mine who's a professional editor, and he seems to agree: it's quite anime-influenced. He suggests that it might actually work better as either a screenplay or a manga-like graphic novel of some type.

Now, I'm not much of an artist myself. If I was, I would've just made it as a webcomic or something in the first place. The written word is really the only artistic medium I have any real skill with.

So I guess that brings me to my question: what's the best way to follow his advice? Are there companies or people I can work with who might be able to help me along in that goal? Or, to be more specific, are there companies/publishing houses that might recognize a market for graphic novels with a clear anime influence, and that I might be able to successfully sell my idea to? Would say, Marvel or DC be interested in something along those lines to sell to this market? Is there even a recognition of that market? Do you think, with a sizable chunk of American anime fans becoming disillusioned with moe-works, that such a market either already exists or can be created? I guess the biggest question of all is is there any way to make my dream a reality? I'm not asking to become a manga-ka, just wondering if my idea is even marketable or sellable in THIS country.

So yeah, I guess in summary, can I get together either with someone, or with a publishing house, and sell this sucker for good old American dollars?


...okay. So!

I'm going to give you one big piece of advice here, one that will solve this whole situation. Ready?

You WILL NOT be able to sell your anime-inspired idea for "good old American dollars." Not as a book, not as a screenplay, not as a graphic novel. You won't. I'm sorry.

I'm not saying this because I doubt your talent, or because I'm bitter, or any of that stuff. I'm saying that because, statistically, the number of people who've successfully sold the first thing they've ever written, anime-inspired or no, right out the gate with no real industry contacts and without powerful friends, is incomprehensibly small. Infinitesimal. So, don't bother doing that.

Now, am I saying that you should just give up? Absolutely not.

Write the goddamn story YOU WANT TO WRITE. Write it the best that you can and then spend years re-writing it. When you get bored of re-writing it, write some other things. Get out there, make some noise. Do crazy things. Write short stories, write plays, write prose, write for radio, write for a sketch comedy troupe made out of your friends, write a short film for a crappy college project. Write and write and write.

Want to know how books and screenplays get sold? Somebody important somewhere hears your name, and they say to themselves, "Oh, I heard about the person who wrote this, supposedly they're good, so I'll check this out." There's an assumption on behalf of the Important Person that the screenplay or manuscript that's wound up on their desk has gotten there because the writer spent years sweating it out in the trenches, writing out of passion for little to no money for years, honing their craft until it's been worn and weathered enough to be at the level it needs to be in order to grab their attention.

That's not always accurate, and it certainly isn't fair. But, it's the way the world is. Writing, as a career just like anything else, isn't *just* about the end product. You've got to work your way through the system the same way as everybody else. The sad part about it is that there's never any guarantees; I can't say with complete conviction that at some point, after all the blood and sweat and tears that you've poured into your work for years, it'll pay off with a tidy WGA sum or a book deal.

I know this answer (and this question, honestly) has little to do with anime. But, I am a writer! And honestly I'm in the same position as you, and countless others. I would love more than anything else to sell my writing and earn a good living. Right now, the only person paying me to write down what I think is ANN here, god bless 'em. I've written countless plays, only three of which I actually felt were strong enough to be performed. I was not paid a single cent to do so. I write and draw things nearly every single day, trying to make it habitual. I have a certain amount of confidence in my talent, but part of the fun and excitement of being a writer is that constant sense of pushing yourself, always reaching for that ceiling in the sky, seeing how far it'll go before you can't get any higher.

Of course, you are more than welcome to ignore all that advice and attempt to sell your book or screenplay anyway. There are dozens of websites and For Dummies books on that subject elsewhere. And while they may give you a good idea on where to look, you'll realize soon, as I did, that the challenges of selling your exercises in creative writing are completely fraught with peril and doom. Without a solid reputation, it's nearly impossible.

And then, of course, there's the option of making your own movie or your own graphic novel. Find a crew or find an artist, and believe me when I say that there's tons of them out there, who're inspired by your script to create something themselves.

That right there, making your own thing from your own words out of nothing but spit and gristle and passion, is also a good way to get noticed by said Important People.

I was so leaning on the fence over that hentai question being my Flake this week, that honestly I haven't really scoured the dark depths of my spam-filled inbox to really check and see if there was anything worse in there. At least, not as far as I noticed. That's a roundabout way of saying that there's no Flake this time.

But! I do have quite a bit of Answerfans to share with all of y'all, since I gave you guys this seasonally appropriate question two weeks prior:

Ahren starts things off on quite the somber note, but a sweet one:

What is the thing that I'm most thankful for? Well let's see....

Between the time that I last answered an answerfans question and now... My grandad passed away, I guess I should thank God that my nana is still alive. Thanksgiving would have been better for me if I had been able to taste the food better as I have had a nasal infection since the 25th of October, but that's a different story and this answer isn't supposed to be about the misery in my life this time.

But I think the one thing that I'm most thankful for this year as far as anime goes is that the uncut version of One Piece being released by Funimation continues to be popular.

I had originally first seen One Piece when my cousin from Japan came to America and brought a vhs tape with the first couple of episodes on it. He translated it into english as we watched and even imitated the different voices. Although I only got to see the first 2 episodes it was enough to get me curious. I wondered if it would ever be released in America. Then it was but by 4kids entertainment. That release almost made me give up on the series.

After I read online about the differences between the edited American version and the Japanese version I became interested again. I ended up buying some imported dvds containing about 200 episodes and with bad english subtitles that were like a translation puzzle. Luffy was occasionally translated as Roof, Ussop was translated as Crook Boo, and Sanji was translated as Sunkis. Despite these problems I was happy with what I got and it quickly became one of my favorite anime series.

I eventually stopped watching at around episode 150 as by that time I had heard the miraculous news: Funimation would be releasing a unedited American version. I was overjoyed! I bought the first disc set as soon as it was released and found myself enjoying the series as if I was watching it for the first time all over again. I continued to buy each set and now I have watched farther than where I stopped with the imported discs. That's right I bought the series twice.

So as long as everything is going well with the One Piece releases then I'm happy. Although I'm sad that none of my friends seem to share the same passion for One Piece as I do. My friend's wife says she finds the series too annoying. I would accept that answer more if she had actually watched more than 2 random episodes and besides, how can she love Bottle Fairy with its annoying chirpy voiced characters, but simply turn her back on One Piece. My friend doesn't watch it simply because his wife won't tolerate it.

I will continue my loyalty to the anime industry by buying all of the American releases of anything that I find interesting, have watched for free, have downloaded for free, or have acquired an unofficial release of. Even School Days ( shudder ) if its ever released here. The industry needs money and not just my love to continue to run.

Vashfanatic has bittersweet love for Utena:

What am I most thankful for? First, a bit of back story.

Ever since I watched the first two episodes near the end of my freshman year, I have been fascinated with a certain series. But unfortunately at the time everyone else in the club thought it was “too weird,” probably not helped by my yelping “Woohoo! Lesbians!” when the opening credits first rolled (this was the series that made me realize I am a yuri fangirl). So for a year I languished without getting to see any more of the bizarre show with its strange music and fiery female lead.

Fast forward, and a new group of underclassmen brought in their DVD collections. I was able to watch two thirds of the series, only to discover they were missing one DVD. It took me a summer to track down some fansubs and watch those episodes before coming back the next year to finish the rest of the series. It blew me away with its trippy, emotionally-driven finale. It was so beautifully deconstructive of fairy tale archetypes and story models that it has permanently changed my perspective on story structure. Just thinking about this series makes me want to watch it again. I have the episode titles memorized. I know all the characters, and their corresponding colors and the order of the duels …

I mean, dang, just…Revolutionary Girl Utena!

…but unfortunately having now finished the series by borrowing DVDs from friends, I went to the internet only to discover that the series was out of print and used copies out of my price range. When CPM finally went bankrupt after its long languishment, I gave up hope on getting the R1 version.

So imagine my joy when in July Right Stuf announced that they had the rights to the series and the movie! And not just that, the remastered version. You know, which cleaned up video rather than the shaky frames and dingy color from the initial release? Bliss. I posted a blog entry complete with giant caps and dancing gifs because I was on cloud nine.

Now, I mean, okay, I have to now save money to buy Utena, and money will be even tighter now that I am going back to school, but still. There are some series you must have, and this is one for me.

Mark is happy for Mamoru Hosoda's latest hitting stateside:

While certainly not the strongest year for anime production, there were many quality titles released this year (Toradora, Eden of the East, Mariaholic, Durarara!!, etc.) but the thing I'm most grateful for is that Funimation has finally announced the DVD release date of Summer Wars (February 15, 2011), just one and a half years after the film was released in theaters. Great job. Way to ride the strong buzz that came from the Japanese theatrical release. Hope I don't have to wait another year and a half for the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya DVD (will we still be using DVDs in a year and a half?)

L is grateful for Cross Game, and so am I:

I'm grateful for great writing that gets licensed. In particular, Fumi Yoshinaga's Ooku and Mitsuru Adachi's Cross Game.

This year I started reading Ooku on a whim, but the storyline was so engrossing, I now act like a kid in a candystore when I get the latest book in the mail.

Ooku, aside, I am MOST grateful, for Viz licensing Cross Game's manga and for streaming the anime. Last year I had watched the first episode (again on a whim) and was instantly hooked. When I found out it was based on a manga, I started reading it online. Now, I'm not a baseball fan and barely knew the rules of the game, but my heart would race for them with each game. And it was oh so much more than just baseball! The story was so endearing and well told, full of characters with such real personalities that there was no way I couldn't hold it close to my heart. So excited for this story, I told my friend about it and stated I couldn't wait for it to get licensed. My heart broke when she told me that sports anime/manga have a very difficult time getting licensed, if ever. So when ANN posted news that the anime would be streamed and the manga released in October, I was thrilled. Now, I'm just hoping that others will see just how great this story is and will support it. I'm already waiting for the second volume.

Now if only they would actually release the anime, as well. I'm sure it's just wishful thinking on my part, though.

Matthew is joyous about license rescuing:

The one thing I am most excited about this year was the announcement that Viz Media has picked up Oh!Great's "Tenjho Tenge" and will be publishing it as it was meant to be seen as a Mature rated, unedited Manga. Although I had been a casual anime follower since the old toonami block on cartoon network (DBZ, Outlaw Star, and Tenchi Muyo were the best), Tenten was the series that really got me interested in manga and was the first manga title I ever purchased. CMX's handle of the series always disappointed me and although I was saddened by the closer of the imprint I was excited that there may be a chance to see my favorite series reissued. I have totally enjoyed Viz's handle of other bound volume titles such as Takehiko Inoue's "Vagabond" series and am looking forward to seeing Tenten treated with the same level of respect.

Jeff loves Gundam and Gundam loves Jeff:

This year, I'm most thankful for Gundam UC, but maybe not for the most obvious reasons. Yeah, it's another Gundam set in the Universal Century. Yeah, it's beautifully animated. Yeah, it's got new takes on the tried-and-true Tomino themes. And yeah, it's got an awesome red mobile suit traveling at three times the normal rate.

That's all well and good, but not necessarily why I'm thankful for it. What put it above everything else? Simultaneous worldwide release. With a dub. A well-done dub! I haven't even purchased a Blu-Ray player yet, but I made sure to pre-order both Gundam UC releases that came out this year.

Michael finds happiness in simple terms:

I'm thankful that many of Crunchyroll's anime are available to me in New Zealand, and that I stumbled upon this fact, having almost given up trying when all other sites refused to serve anything to me.

Lise is gracious for WWII-inspired goofiness:

I already had my Thanksgiving back in October, but I will say that I am grateful that for Hetalia: Axis Powers. It's certainly not going to win any awards for stunning animation, or well-told story, but it allowed me to waste a few hours of my life in an enjoyable fashion. The premise is ridiculous (stereotyped personified countries in WW2 that are also gay for each other), and I know it's just a throw-away gag show, but in a broader sense, I'm grateful that more unusual anime is starting to appear in the North American market.

Lainofthenet's story has nothing to do with anime but it's pretty cool so here it goes:

What am I thankful for? We had our thanksgiving weeks ago. Shorter growing season up here so I guess that is why we do it.

I got some things. The end of September the building we live in had a fire. 917 units and almost 2000 people plus others, pets and all the things that are owned by that number of people were affected. Our building is separated into a North and South tower. No closed fire doors or walkways just a set of elevators and an arbitrary division. The floor below us in the North Tower had a fire break out in an apartment that was crammed with papers from the floor to the ceiling. It started at 5 pm and looked like it was almost out by 7.

The fire spread down to the floor below ...and then things got nasty. Something blew up and the fire was pouring out the windows and continued for at least another 5 hours. The apartment below that one became involved as well as the ones on either side. The result was an evacuation of the entire building. The North tower became uninhabitable due to the structure damage and the use of water. Everything below the fire was damaged by massive amounts of water and smoke. In the south tower ...water flowed along the floors did more damage.

All residents had to leave that night and we were directed to a community shelter. The red cross had cots set up and because it was a Friday night the city. Whoever owns the building ...did not respond properly until Monday and even then it took them another two days to set up. My wife and I had to self house for the first five days in a hotel that cost us a lot. I was working and trying to maintain my job ...and I could not sleep in a gym with people screaming for answers. I also have Asperger's Syndrome and I got issues with too much sensory input at times.

Our intercom went out early in the fire and we had been told to stay in the apartment if we had air. Our air conditioner was on and that created a high pressure zone. The smoke stayed out and we had very little damage to our belongings. We have no insurance and we could not have replaced things. We had to pay for our own housing for 6 days before the city finally got us into a hotel near the airport. This is a city owned building and it was their responsibility. We have been told not to expect compensation.

We were asked to come back to the building and talk to a relocation worker. I was about to sign on the dotted line for a new location I knew nothing about on behalf of my wife and myself. I had been trying to tell the many workers that we had no damage in the apartment but we were not believed. Someone from the command center decided to go up and look and found that we were telling the truth and not delusional or in denial. We were allowed to re enter our place after two weeks.

Today in the North Tower most people are not back. They have lost everything they owned and have no access to what is left. They are housed all over the city and some will not be back before June. Half the building is empty and sometimes when we enter someone ...a neighbor will ask us if we are back and declare what lucky bastards we are. We know it. Really. I did have to take some time from work but I am back now. During that time we had only the stuff we had in a backpacks. We had our id and some clothes and our plastic but we both despaired of ever seeing our belongings again.

Well ...not one person died here. A couple of firefighters were injured due to smoke and one scalded. The apartment had been identified as a fire hazard over two years ago by the same firefighters that worked to save the building and the management company the city had to hire to run this place and the other 17 towers in this complex have one less building to run. The city took it back.

My wife is well and though she does not tolerate sirens these days well is alive and with me. I am alive and with her. Our belongings are untouched and we had thanksgiving here. I still work and take great pride in that. Considering all the grief that still is happening for others here and the fact that our bathroom was flooding for 6 days straight last week ...I am pretty damned thankful.

So we're back in the groove, and next week, I've got this little doozy of a question prepped for you Answering prowess:

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 this week of course, but make sure to get inspired and drop me a question or an answer at my den of iniquity known as answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! Be back next week!

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