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Hey, Answerman!
Out With The Old

by Brian Hanson,

Hello hello hello! Welcome to the final Answerfans of 2010! It's me, Brian, that guy. I am here, there are questions below this text, and below those questions are some answers I have written, also in text form.

Y'know, 2010 has been an interesting year for me, but not necessarily a great one; so in other words, I won't be too sad to see it go away. It's also been a curious one for the anime industry - outside of the grim and sad circumstance of Satoshi Kon's death, I can't immediately point to one BIG thing that happened over the year that really shook this industry to its core. If anything, it has been a year of gradual improvement, of slightly better titles being released and produced. Just enough slight improvement to make me feel like everything isn't quite stagnant.

But there will be time for one last trip down reminiscing lane later - for now, let's get to the meat of this thing.

I'm really getting fed up with how US anime and manga companies won't let the public know that they've decided to discontinue a title. I know that the economy is tight and some unique things have being going on with licenses lately, but I've been an anime and manga fan for two decades now and it seems like it's always been this way. Instead of a company saying it has lost a license or that it's not profitable to continue releasing a title, they'll simply give vague answers about a release or flat out lie and say they have every intention to continue a title when from the get-go they knew it was a dud and will be dropped.

The only reason I can think of to justify their reticence is that companies are scared that people won't buy what's already been released from a discontinued title. Whatever the reason, I have to wonder if it's starting to create a backlash. I know more and more anime and manga fans are getting gun-shy about starting new series. Once again, I understand that times are tough and that sometimes companies don't know what they want to do with a title, but as a consumer and a fan, I would appreciate being told up front if a title is dropped rather than waiting, in some cases for years, to know what's going on.

I was hoping you could explain to me what's going on and why. Maybe I'd be less frustrated if I could see things from another point of view.

That's a fair question, and certainly you're far from the only person out there feeling the sting of disappointment and anger about seeing your favorite title disappear, unfinished. How many people are cursing at Viz right now to release the second DVD set for Monster, for example? Will we ever see the entirety of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure released in English? That's only two examples in a vast ocean of others.

My answer for this, and apologies if it sounds kind of mean-spirited, is that... they don't have to. In fact, try and think about this same problem in virtually every other medium. Think about how many book series, film series, albums of music, video games, and everything else that have been cruelly and unjustly left unfinished and unavailable for the English-speaking world.

One of my favorite all-time video games is Hideo Kojima's terrific Sega CD adventure game/Blade Runner rip-off, Snatcher. That game sold less than 500 copies. It was a dud, a fiasco. An expensive fiasco, to boot. The biggest reason that nobody bought that game was because, well, who the hell actually had a Sega CD, anyway? But in Konami's eyes, the game was a failure. A few years later, before finally landing a big hit in the US in the form of Metal Gear Solid, Kojima tried his hand at another brilliant sci-fi adventure game, Policenauts. For years, ersatz video game nerds were clamoring Konami's western offices to translate and release that game to the public. Policenauts is a Playstation game! People actually have Playstations! But it didn't matter, because the reasoning was simple: Snatcher flopped, and so a game very much like Snatcher would flop. Policenauts was never released, and it wasn't until some intrepid fans translated and patched the game themselves that it was playable to non-Japanese audiences like myself.

Konami never had a big press release to tell people, "we are not going to release Policenauts, and here's why." They weren't releasing the game, so why bother talking about it, basically. And it's the same story everywhere else. Until the Folks In Charge are actually put under the harsh interrogation lights of the enthusiast press, they're going to remain mum on the subject. I mean, for God's sakes, everyone in the industry knew that Geneon was taking a savage beating for years, but it wasn't until long after the company collapsed that Zac and Justin were able to get Chad Kime on the record on ANNcast to specifically state which titles failed and why. For one thing, sales figures are actually confidential information, so it's quite rare to hear any company discuss their sales, good or bad. They're just more likely to break that coda of silence to discuss the good ones, rather than the mediocre or the bad ones. The other thing is, it's just data. Numbers and statistics. It provides fun fodder for internet discussion, but it's not really good for much else.

It has less to do with being "honest" with their fans, and more to do with the simple business mantra of always looking forward. And it's the same story with any other industry. When The Golden Compass movie failed and failed hard, New Line Cinema didn't send out a press release in the papers saying "WOW! Holy CRAP! We are TOTALLY not making any more of those." And that film has its fans, and the books certainly have their fans, and no doubt there's a lot of frustration about the fact that there won't be any more movies, but... the general audience yawned, and all the studios and the publishers can do is just shrug their shoulders and move on.

Bear in mind that I'm not trying to apologize on behalf of the industry and their silence. If I had my way, actually, I would *make* all these companies speak up whenever their licenses lapse or if they decide to discontinue something. This industry is small and it's fanbase is relatively contained, so I don't see the harm in merely telling their fans when a decision is made to drop a title. Not as a tacit admission of failure, but as a service to all the people, no matter how few, who supported them. The president of New Line Cinema doesn't have to hold a press briefing to apologize to everybody who has ever read The Golden Compass, but certainly Viz can do something to quell the speculation and the rumors and the general freaking-out on behalf of the folks who enjoyed Monster enough to purchase the first half of it.

But, sadly, they don't have to, and shockingly enough, they don't want to do that. That's their choice, and it sucks. So basically, things suck. And that's life. That's not to say you don't have the right to complain, because you do. But sadly, that's just the cycle. Crappy things happen to stuff people like, they complain about it, occasionally some good comes of it, usually not though. Not the most uplifting answer I know, but unfortunately it's the correct one.

I'm a collector and I obviously like to support the anime industry, but I've got a question: Is it better to pre-order anime DVDs, or simply buy them when they are released? Is there a difference either way? There's two titles that I definitely want, but they don't have release dates yet (Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei and... yeah... Queen's Blade on Blu-Ray. I like ecchi anime every now and then, so sue me!) Normally I pre-order everything, but I wonder if it's even worth it for something that keeps getting pushed back and delayed.

Oh, yeah. If you're quite serious about "supporting the industry," then pre-ordering something is one of the most real, quantifiable, bona-fide ways to do that. For one thing, it's terrific marketing data, and it helps companies attempt to quantify things like print runs, circulation, price, et cetera. The other thing is that they know, roughly, what to expect from a sales perspective. Using complicated mathematical formulas and matrices that are too intensive for a guy who took College Algebra three times (I finally passed the third time with a B-minus!!!) they can extrapolate all kinds of useful sales projections. Nine times out of ten, a pre-order means a sale, and that data is invaluable. And of course the retailers appreciate it as well. The joy of pre-orders spreads all around.

However, to your question though, I would say that pre-ordering something with a "Release Date TBA" listing is a little... unsettling. At least to someone like myself. And I'm not just saying that because the previous question made me a little circumspect about the sad lack of support that certain titles are given by their publishers, but because for someone like myself, I just don't think something even exists until I'm given a firm release date.

So yeah. If there's a firm date and you know you're going to buy it anyway, pre-order that sucker. Not only does the industry get your money in the end, but they know that they are getting your money, before they even get it!>

Imagi Studios proposed a Gatchaman movie but the studio went bye-bye. And this has just popped up today: Sony has registered a domain name for a Gatchaman movie.

Does this mean Sony has taken over the project?

Oh, that thing again.


Short answer: maybe.

Long answer: this happens all the time. Big movie studios are always hot on the trail to track down viable properties to adapt to feature films, so you can virtually type in any sort of intellectual property, add "-themovie" at the end, and sandwich it between some www's and a .com, and boom. Most of the properties associated with those domain names will never see the light of day as films.

It's a form of insurance, more than anything. All this means for Gatchaman is that, currently, Sony has an option on the property. Gatchaman has been optioned by nearly every movie studio in Hollywood over the past two decades, on the off chance that they can find the right script and the right director (read: cheap) that'll fit within their release window. It almost happened with Imagi Studios, but then a little film they made called Astro Boy was released. And, it tanked. Badly.

Now, the property is out in the aether. Sony is probably just eyeing it as a possibility on the off chance that some hotshot director with a screenwriter in tow manages to wow them with an impressive pitch, but that's unlikely to happen, at least in the near future. But, just in case that happens, they'll have the domain all to themselves. That way, if the film happens, they won't have to pay some domain scalper an ungodly sum of money to purchase it after the film is being developed.

But, any number of things could happen. Sony could just sit on the license until their rights lapse and let the domain expire. Sony could sell the rights to the property to another studio willing to put the time and the money into it. Hell, maybe some billionaire will buy the domain name and fill it with spam and pornography. Who knows.

All I can say is that, yes, Sony is "looking at" Gatchaman. In filmspeak, "looking at" something means "if a good pitch comes along, it's ours."

"Quickly, I need to pirate something fast! WHO WILL KNOW THE INTERNET'S SECRETS"

hello where can i download [piratey link deleted], the link doesn't work

I don't know about that. But I *do* know where to find The World's Sleepiest Child trying to sell you Robotech toys!

Y'know, I've tried Melatonin, but it never really works for me. I should definitely try the homeopathic Zentraedi Action Figure method.

Last but certainly not least, it's time to unfurl the Answerfans banner to get everyone's last bit of 2010 rememberances! Only this time, they're not so fond. Oh, no.

Beginning this week's cavalcade of hate, Ahrem advises us not to eat Master of Martial Hearts. Good advice, I think:

For me this is actually an easy answer. Sadly. And the worst anime I watched in 2010 is.... Master of Martial Hearts.

This has got to be the most absolute piece of trash I have ever seen. It all began with the terrible opening sequence and its miserable song. At the end of the song it sounds like the singer is cheering for herself for doing such an awesome job singing (NO! SHE FAILED!!!) The animation was poor. The story was bad. I just couldn't enjoy this series. It just felt like garbage. I tend to always try to find the good in every show that I watch, but there was no good to find in this show AT ALL!!

After all that I went through with this series it had better have one incredible ending. No! It failed again!! The ending was about nothing but sadistic cruelty, malicious revenge and blind hatred. And after I had suffered through all 5 terrible episodes!! I was so angry! This was the first time I have ever been completely and utterly PISSED OFF BY AN ANIME SERIES!!!! Why Funimation?!! Why would you do this to me?!!!

I had originally thought that Queen's Blade was the trashiest piece of fan service, but compared to MOMH, Queen's Blade looks like a work of art. If you like to see busty girls fighting each other and ending up in states of undress as a consequence of it then look to Queen's Blade (or maybe even Ikki Tousen). The animation looks nicer and the art is much more attractive than the other series (I don't feel like typing out it's name again)! I sure hope that this won't make people curious about said other series, because its not even worth a look. Trust me. It will be the biggest waste of your time ever!!

If perverse fanservice were food, "Queen's Blade" would be like Filet Mignon. "The Other Series" would be like cheap meatloaf, but it's not really meat loaf!! its actually ****loaf disguised to look like meatloaf!! DANGER!! DO NOT EAT!!!!!

Chris, meanwhile, finally discovers something all of us at ANN already knew - that anyone who writes for a Gundam series is certifiably insane:

The single worst thing I've seen or read this year? Well, I feel like I'm kind of bending the rules here, but the subject of my ire isn't an anime or manga, but rather a light novel based on an anime. That novel? Gundam Wing: Frozen Teardrop.

Now, I'd like to pause for a second to note a couple of things. Yes, I am a male who actually likes Gundam Wing, and I like it for legitimate reasons (AKA, not yaoi). And no, I don't think it's perfect; it does have its flaws, but overall it's still enjoyable and to me it holds a special significance, since love of GW is the reason I met the woman I plan on marrying. But I digress.

Frozen Teardrop is, if you don't know, a novel written by Katsuyuki Sumizawa (GW's head writer), serialized in Gundam Ace magazine and focusing on the exploits of the GW cast and their children, some 30 years after the happy ending of the film Endless Waltz. I certainly wasn't expecting this show to get a sequel now, fifteen years after it ended, so when I heard the news I was both surprised and excited. Sadly, that excitement soon faded as I actually started reading the translated chapters. To say I became livid was an understatement; a good friend told me that he'd never seen me get this angry over something - and then he added that he agreed one hundred percent. But why does a silly novel trigger such rage in me? (As a quick aside, I note that the story is not yet completed.)

For starters, we have the whole "children of the heroes" concept. This can be pulled off well, but rarely is. More often you get an author lazily copying one character's personality and quirks wholesale and simply slapping them into a new character. This pops up a lot in fanfiction, but is also present in professional works. It really is confusing, since the obvious question is "If you're going to do that, why not just write stories about the original characters?" In Frozen Teardrop, the so-called Generation Xerox (to borrow from TV Tropes) is in full effect, as every child who's shown up so far looks and acts dead identical to their respective parent, and it really just defeats the purpose of setting the story several decades after the show.

Next up is the melodrama. This may just be my personal preference, but I really don't care for the weepy, hand-wringing soap opera style of drama, where every character is either dying of a horrible disease, or is cheating on one another, or whatever. Unfortunately we get that in FT as well, since large portions of the first two chapters completely ignore the premise in order to explore the backstory of one of the show's key players. Hearing some nice little tidbit of backstory? That's fine; in fact, GW has an entire manga dedicated to the concept (one written by the same author, and one MUCH better). But when you take time away from the main plot to detail the Edward-and-Bella-like antics of someone's parents, you've missed the point. (For the record, I know Twilight is an easy target, but I'm really not kidding with that comparison. The husband dies, and the wife goes off the deep end, kissing her own son as if he were a lover and wandering the halls of her home naked and in a daze before eventually being confined to a mental hospital. And even before he died, they very much acted like "Without you, I have no reason to go on living!")

And finally, we get to the really frustrating part: the way the story treats the returning cast members. I really don't want to say rude things about Sumizawa's writing talent and sanity, but frankly I do wonder if he forgot how to write the GW cast, or if he's simply enacting a pre-planned plot regardless of prior characterization. Without naming names:
-One of the main characters "went berserk" post-series (yet to be explained), killed several people, and was put in cryogenic stasis for the intervening time.
-Another of the mains was also frozen, only to be brainwashed by a yet-unnamed party into becoming a villain, and is apparently the main antagonist of the piece.
-A third main character assassinated (as in, bullet through the forehead), the killer strongly implied to be acting on orders from the previously listed person who, in their right mind, would sooner chop off their own arm than hurt this third person.

The rest of the returning GW characters get off relatively light (though there's an off-screen death, and the assassin mentioned earlier is the protege of yet another protagonist), but really, those three bullet points should tell you all you need to know. Yes, brainwashing was involved in one case, but that doesn't take the sting away from the fact that one of the heroes of this show, a character of strong principles and steadfast dedication, has been turned into an evil, scheming villain who caused the death of a very important friend. And, of course, we have another character who is likewise heroic and dedicated to preserving peace who spontaneously went on a killing spree with no real explanation so far. Really, the whole thing can be summarized in two words: character assassination.

Simply put, Frozen Teardrop takes everything that was enjoyable in Gundam Wing and systematically destroys it, for no adequate reason. You've heard of Highlander: The Source, where everything that made the original film special and entertaining, down to Queen's "Princes of the Universe", is torn down in favor of poorly-scripted fight scenes and plothole-ridden storylines? Well, this is Gundam Wing: The Source, an unnecessary, unwanted sequel to an already complete story that only serves to cheapen everything related to it merely by existing.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to try to drown myself in eggnog in the hopes that the alcohol will wash away my memories of this travesty.

Oh, I have the feeling that PC's response is going to stir the pot a bit:

I've been watching, or at least trying, almost everything coming out for the past years. Of course, I skip genres I dislike by default (yaoi, yuri, magical-girls, and educational stuff, being the ones that come to mind).

So, after well over 50 titles (I'm keeping up with over 20 just this season), I can proudly give this trophy to Chu-Bra!! Now, I mean no offense to whoever actually liked it (assuming that's even possible), but this series was just godawful, and thank god I discovered it after watching a single episode. I don't usually judge a series before finishing it, but I really doubt I'd survive to see this one through.

Now, Chu-Bra's protagonist, as the series' name implies, is an underwear manic. Here's the thing: it's a fanservice series, yet the protagonist isn't just ugly, but also too young to even have a fetish like that. But, even with this ridiculous setting it should be able to pull it off, but it didn't because whoever directed this seemed to be watching porn while directing it. Awful stuff man, keep as far away as you can.

Those are the only really interesting responses I got for this week - I guess I was asking too much for people to ignore all the fun of Christmas break and sit down at their computers to tell me all about something they hate. Ah well.

Next week! We're done looking back, so now it's time to look forward:

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 is it, and that wraps up 2010 in a nice neat little bow! I'll be back in a week, my head still throbbing from all the alcohol and the wasted opportunities and the regret and the shame. But I'll be back next week, so don't forget to drop some knowledge bombs to my email-space at answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! Happy New Year!

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