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Hey, Answerman!
A Higher Level of Whatever

by Brian Hanson,

Hello again, my prodigiously pronounced posse of fanboys and girls! This is Answerman, and today, I have a serious of questions that I will answer, with jokes and stuff included. This is just one of the free services I offer.

So, enough of the preamble, let's get rollin':

Recently me and my friends had a heated debated about anime tastes. Within that debate one of my friends spurted a phrase that annoyed me to no end when he called himself a "higher level of Otaku".

This annoyed me as he was putting across the point of view that because he watches all different types of anime like Slice of Life, Maho Shoujo,Comedy and Action he was better than the friend who basically only watched Action/Shonen anime. Now this made me think about the general anime community and wonder if there really was a divide in terms of taste. Is there actually people who believe in this term "higher level of Otaku" and if so where does it come from? In other fandoms such a divide never existed. Such as gaming a person who plays all types of games doesn't seem to indicate they are better than say a person who only plays anime rpgs and fighting games. Or someone who likes all sport does see themselves as better than say a football nut. I wonder if people can really look down on people due to what they like/dislike. Maybe I'm naive and this is happening everywhere or maybe this is just my friend being dickish. But it's something I thought about a lot.

To put it bluntly does there exist a group of anime fans who look down on people due to their taste? Why would such a group exist and what is your take on the term "higher level of Otaku"?

Oh my God, you are actually so naive that it's actually quite adorable! D'awww! Or to put it another way: you're lucky that you haven't experienced this sort of elitist snobbery in other "fandoms" yet. Because actually it happens all the time in everything, forever.

Somebody who reads recommendations from the Utne Reader will look down upon somebody who only reads horror novels, and that person who only reads horror novels will in turn look down on someone who only reads Star Fox 64 fanfiction. Somebody who listens to underground metal bands from Scandinavia will scoff at the kid who listens to Devil Wears Prada, and that same kid of course bristles with anger over anybody who listens to Justin Bieber.

(Ah, I've made it *this* far in my writing career without referencing Justin Bieber. It had to end someday, I guess.)

It's sociological, pure and simple. Our incredibly complex society is filled with caste systems, both real and manufactured. We as people need to glom onto something exclusive to elevate us above the oh-so-blase Common Man. And in your case, the Common Man is the anime fan who maybe watches Bleach and One Piece and little else.

Now that I'm finished explaining why this is not at all surprising, let me go on to say that the "higher level of Otaku" guy is a complete and consummate douchenugget. Just like the people with their noses in the air because they've watched more Criterion Collection DVDs than the fanboys who've only watched The Dark Knight a dozen times, this elitist and exclusionary behavior is not only uncommon, I'd go so far as to say that it's the norm.

To put it in anime fandom terms, ask any 4channer for their opinion of Gaia Online, and then ask the Anime on DVD forum users what their opinion of 4chan is. Those are all very self-contained and very active online communities; looking at it rationally you'd think that they'd realize that they all wear the same badge of Japanese fandom, but that of course would set off a domino reaction of ad hominem attacks and silly online posturing.

My general opinion, honestly, is to let these people have their phony sense of entitlement. I have far, far better things to do with my time in this life than to try and deal with somebody living in a fantasy world of smug empowerment.

Here, I'll give you a personal anecdote from my actual life: As I've mentioned before I work in a bookstore, with a healthy supply of manga. This girl, around my age, walks by as I'm alphabetizing the manga, which had been horribly mangled over the weekend. She asks me, "How come you don't have any June manga?!"

I say, "Well actually I think we still have quite a few."

"Yeah, but none of the good ones," she shouts back.

She then picks up the latest volume of Naruto in disgust. "Ugh! They're up to volume fifty?! That's sort of gross, how something could keep running that long."

She looks at me, expecting a response. "Oh, uh, yeah," I say, "that is kind of crazy, I guess. At least it still sells though."

She barks back at me, "I mean, I just read them all online anyway, but still. They can't just keep these things going forever."

My brain gets this slight tinge of do not say what you are going to say but I end up saying it anyway: "Well, at least it's not like, Doraemon or Kochikame."

Oh, crap. She replies back, "Oh, yeah, I've already seen those."

For the love of God Brian do not say what you want to say here please c'mon man. And yet the words come out of my mouth. "Really? Kochikame? Really? That show came out in the 70's. And I don't think it's ever been released in English, like ever. That's really cool that you've read Kochikame!"

She realizes she's been caught. I can see her eyes reach back in her brain, asking for help. "Well, uh," she says, "I haven't seen Kochi... that. I did see the other one, though. Doh-reemon."

In that instant, I realized that this girl is used to winning arguments with anime fans this way. She is actually accustomed to people going up to her, attempting to impress / aggrandize themselves by spouting off that they've seen anime and read manga that nobody else has, when in fact they haven't. And when she rips back with "Oh yeah well I saw that FOREVER ago," the ball is in her court now.

It was immensely depressing, honestly. Let's move on.

I'll go ahead and admit this probably falls right into the "fandom gray area" that is probably getting tedious to answer by now, but I'm relatively satisfied with how I personally go about getting my anime so I am not coming to you asking "am I a good fan or not???" But while I do strive to get things legally whenever I can, the fact still stands that I do participate in piracy for some series.

My question comes into play where a certain future job idea is concerned. I've been contemplating applying to Funimation (NOT as a voice actor as my acting ability is atrocious, but any of the other departments that I might be qualified for) sometime after I finish up college this year. But the fact that I do pirate things, even if I am weening myself off of it, has me a bit hesitant about applying. I figure Funimation (and any other studio/publisher really) is quite aware that many people of my generation have pirated at least one series at some point in time, and might be willing to overlook it. But at the same time they might prefer someone who has a clean record (relatively speaking as I know many people who pirate aren't actually arrested for it), which might cause any applicants to lie about their experiences, which of course isn't advisable since you're lying to a future employer and isn't good at all if they find out about it later.

So before this gets too long, what do you think? With piracy being as prevalent as it is in this day and age, do you think a history with it could drastically hurt someone's chances at getting accepted into the industry?

Ah, fansub guilt! Here it is again. I've missed you, you old devil.

Okay, so. I can't speak on behalf of Funimation or their Human Resources department. But! In the grand history of human employment, the decision to hire somebody for a job of any kind usually depends on two key factors:

Are you able to perform the necessary tasks for this job?

And, are you qualified above the other applicants to be considered for this job?

So long as you've got a good resume, you've got some killer references, and you don't have any outstanding warrants for your arrest stemming from armed robbery in five states, consider yourself fine.

I mean, of course they would love to hire somebody with a "clean record," but that's probably going to be completely irrelevant tho the job qualifications at hand. I say "probably," because again I can't speak with 100 percent certainty on this. Still though; the people in charge of personnel are probably more concerned with the potential quantity and quality of your work than your history with piracy.

And also, you are absolutely correct; the kids in the 2000's and on are growing up and hitting adulthood. Statistically, that makes a majority of them pirates of one kind or another. Either an entire generation of young adults are going to find themselves locked out of employment opportunities because of their flawed perceptions of digital ownership, or companies are going to simply overlook that. My money's on the latter.

Hello Answerman, my question is concerning Dragon Ball Kai. Do you think the time they used to create DBK was worth it, since it is basically the same series as DBZ just remastered and shortened OR do you think they could have used that time to create a brand new Dragon Ball saga, such as Dragon Ball AF, for example.

Oh indeed, it was so worth it. First of all, Toei managed to cut out all the extraneous bullcrap in Dragon Ball Z to the point where even someone like *myself* felt compelled to own it. Also, it was a huge success. It cost only a fraction of what it would've cost to produce an entirely new series, and it proved that even in 2010, Dragon Ball is still one of the highest-selling animated franchises across the globe.

Besides, just what on earth could they have done with the franchise at this point? I know that certain people have a hard time letting go of things that they love, but give me a break here. There were 153 episodes of Dragon Ball, 291 episodes of Dragon Ball Z, and 64 episodes of Dragon Ball GT. That's 508 total episodes of Dragon Ball. That's over 203 hours of Dragon Ball. I can understand people wanting more episodes of shows that were either purposefully or accidentally short-lived. Like Firefly, or Fawlty Towers. People still want MORE Dragon Ball? Scratch that: people still want more NEW Dragon Ball? Haven't they learned their lesson from Dragon Ball GT? Why anybody would actually want more Dragon Ball after the mind-numbing lameness of Dragon Ball GT? It baffles me. I am baffled.

Luckily! Toei saw things my way. It's cheaper and easier to simply re-release this stuff in perpetuity, because there's still that built-in audience that will buy it, every single time. And to Toei's credit, they really did their due diligence with Dragon Ball Z Kai. The new HD transfer looks great, they did a great job in editing the episodes to the right length, and then Funimation did a great job in re-introducing it to a new generation of kids and fans. Kudos all around.

Yep, that's right: no official Flake this time. Although, in an odd continuation of last week, somebody again sent me a .pdf of their indie comic in the hopes of garnering some exposure. Except this one was an Italian furry comic. No thanks.

So! I had some very well-written responses to last week's plea for sanity, which I worded thusly:

Drew, you're up first. Tell it like it is, brother:

Besides the examples you listed there are quite a few arguments I'm tired of hearing and seeing of regarding anime and manga with other fans.

One such argument is how superficial a good number of them have become. As long as one or more characters from a series look cute to these fans they could care less what happens to the anime/manga as a whole. I consider it disrespectful how some fans just toss aside major parts - like plot - because the only watch an anime for the "kawaii bishies". Or the manga could have the best character developments in the world, but if a certain character is drawn in what these fans would call unflattering they would raise all kinds of hell. It makes me sad to see how fans like this will never realize that if it wasn't for the plot bringing those characters together, the story would never exist in the first place.

Similarly, I'm tired of seeing arguments over how some fans treat an anime/manga's characters like they own them and not their creator. They're not your property so calm the hell down. It's still unbelievable how some fans get so upset when the progression of an anime interferes with their OTP. If an anime/manga's creator wrote the story where Character X finally ends up with Character Y instead of Character Z, then that's what's going to happen so get over it. Though writing silly little fluff pieces of non-cannon pairings is fine, it's the fans who literally throw tantrums when their OTP doesn't happen that get on my nerves.

Another argument I'm tired of seeing is, generally speaking, the one where my opinion isn't considered valid because I don't like a popular title just because it's popular. A recent example of this is when I left my opinions about the current winter 2011 anime season in an online community. I mentioned I stopped watching Dream Eater Merry simply because I didn't like it. As the other community members read my reviews I was surprised to see one of Dream Eater Merry's fans calling me a "troll from 4chan" for disliking it because, apparently, it's popular. Just because I don't like popular titles like One Piece, Bleach, Gurren Lagann or whatever the hell is popular now doesn't make my opinion less equal to yours. Unfortunately anime/manga fandom seems to have turned into something that doesn't pay any attention to titles unless they're very popular.

Black Mokona wants us to get along, damnit:

Actually, the sub against dub debate is not as annoying as it sounds, (granted that there are only so many ways to digitally scream SUUUUUUUB!!! ). And sometimes it's usefull to keep an eye on the piracy talk, lest I lose my source of OOP favorites.

It's the recurring situation of having to wade through arguments along the lines series v.s. series that puts me off forums. More specifically, the running down of Bleach while hailing One Piece. I realize most of the discussion comprise of spamming and flaming and trolling, but believe me when I say Bleach fans are marginally less defensive about their pastime compared with OP readers. Does that seem like an understatement? Because it is. Well, the trolling helps. I am not an ardent Bleach fan, or as some put it, moron, but I'm offended when the art I adore and the plot I follow (and occasionally wince at) are labeled as crappy. This also applies to a multitude of other debates, i.e. OP IS EPIC is not a valid point.

"Chill the Eff Out" says Robert:

Is there an "all of the above" choice here? It's not so much the arguments that get me; its that the same arguments are repeated over and over and over.....you get the idea. I mean, I get it. With the sub v dub argument. Certain people really, really like the subs. Think the dubs are inferior in every way, would never watch dubs, etc. But isn't that a personal preference? If person A likes dubs, and person B likes subs, there really shouldn't be an issue.

In fact, that's really something that could be said about most of the forum arguments that go around. Take "everyone who downloads fansubs is a criminal", for instance. If that's the stance, great. But you can't expect everyone to agree with you. Who knows? Some people might not have legal avenues available to them. Some people might like the fansubs better, but still buy the finished project once it's available where ever they live. Some people might not like streaming, etc. In any debate (fansubs, sub v dub, moe), the people on the extremes aren't the ones that you should be trying to "see the light". Because if you have someone who would never buy anime in the first place, and downloads everything they can get their hands on isn't someone who's going to change their mind because of an argument on an internet forum. Not all people are watching Gunslinger Girl or Mitsudomoe or whatever other show drives moe haters up the wall because they like moe. They might like the story (Gunslinger Girl), or the comedy (Mitsudomoe). Either way, it's their choice to watch those shows - because they enjoy them.

And lets try to remember - it is just anime, after all. If someone disagrees with you, it isn't the end of the world. Rivers won't boil, the four horsemen won't appear, locusts won't swarm. It's just two people having separate opinions of an issue - and that's great! I mean, that's why we get to discuss it on forums and in person. But it's not world peace or world hunger. When we debate moe, it's not like we're in the War Room, and there's a Doomsday device. It's just anime.

Don't get snippy with me, Kevin:

My initial thought on tiresome forum arguments was "Which of the Big Three is the best?", but I think I can make it more generalized as "Is this series good?" or "Which series is better?". Let me start by clarifying, these are typically not topics asking for opinions. Such topics are fine and reasonably common, and can even lead to some good discussions now and then. No, the topics I'm referring to are the ones that are presented as seeking a factual and single correct answer, which leads to any number of obsessive fanboys trying to justify their stance as "correct". Forums are simply not a viable medium for such information. If I want to know about the quality of a particular series, I'll consult ANN's pleasantly colored bars or MAL's user generated numeric rating. Do these ratings always coincide with my opinion? Of course not! But they are a good baseline for acknowledging the quality of a series. This is how I can determine that One Piece is generally considered to be better than Naruto or Bleach, not because some random fanboy thinks Luffy is awesome and Sasuke is emo. When I do find myself posting in such a topic, I make it a point to include a statement of "In my opinion" or some other indicator that I am not attempting to present what I'm stating as fact.

Unless of course such a topic opens an opportunity for blatant sarcasm, in which case, I am absolutely right, and your opinion is wrong ;)


The argument I'm growing tired of having? The cry out of sub-only haters whenever Sentai Filmworks makes a license announcement. All right, all right, we ALL get it - you HATE sub-only releases, you want your dubs and you want them on Blu-Rays and with extras and blah-blah-blah. But in all seriousness, not ALL shows are going to work in a dub. One of my favorite titles that Sentai Filmworks picked up, Glass Mask, came out as a sub-only release. Honestly, I could see it being dubbed, but it's not that popular of a title to spend the money dubbing 51 episodes (even at this moment, the second half of the series has yet to even be released on DVD - boo to me). Gintama, a very popular series (although I've never seen it), also came out sub-only. In this case, from arguments I've read, it'd just be impractical to dub it and miss all the jokes that the sub had done so well.

I also don't see why sub-only haters are complaining, especially when Sentai, and Media Blasters in one case, are trying to go back and dub some of their titles, such as Clannad and Ghost Hunt. Sub-only releases are a way to test the waters to make sure a title will sell well before laying down the money to dub the series. After all, why dub a series that may or will flunk in sales? In many ways, Sentai, Bandai, and Media Blasters are all smart companies for doing sub-only releases with the possibility of going back and dubbing them later.

My other irritation with these haters - very likely a lot of them have seen the show before it was licensed via fansubs or a legal stream, all of which are in subtitles. If the DVD comes out sub-only, what's the difference? One's free, one's not? One has pretty subtitles and karaoke, one has plain yellow or white text and translated lyrics? Honestly, if watching the sub one time via one of these methods was good enough and enjoyed then, then haters can also watch the show via DVDs sub-only again and still be enjoyed. There's no need to dub EVERY SINGLE TITLE, especially when the sub can be enjoyed just as easily.

Mike lives in his moe house and throws no moe stones:

If there is one forum, press, image board, or otherwise anywhere argument that is completely said, done, all points explored and all positions considered, etc., it's moe. Look, moe is not going to go anywhere anytime soon. If you don't like it, don't watch it. It's not dragging all anime down – look at Eden of the East, Summer Wars, and Shiki as examples of popular, recent anime that didn't rely on moe archetypes, harems, etc. If you don't like it, don't watch it. If you think it's ruining all anime ever, look at what talkies did to motion pictures – they survived and flourished.

Moe is just another genre of a larger media, that media being anime. It may be commercialized, it may have low if any artistic value, but I'm willing to bet that every single person who bemoans moe as being trash doesn't go listening to nothing but Vivaldi, Mozart, etc. when they want to listen to music. They've got their pop and dance junk that they have as guilty pleasures. Let the fan who is without their pop trash cast the first stone.

Lastly, without malice or anger, Andrew shares his thoughts on walruses:

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I am not an avid poster on the ANN forums but I dabble and I do post on other forums more often where anime/ manga come up. Two particular things have always just annoyed me beyond reason.

First are the “Subs vs. Dubs” arguments and how they end up invading completely unrelated threads. I would like to preface this by saying that I don't tend to instigate these squabbles but I sometimes get carried away with them. I will say something like “I've only seen the dub, do the subs catch the original thoughts better?” and I get the inevitable, “The dub is terrible and made my grandmother get eaten by walruses!”. After that, even if I don't feel the need to further defend said dub, the thread is often doomed to some form of sub/ dub bickering. Luckily on the ANN forums it tends to be spread sparsely throughout since people like to stay on topic more or less. On many other forums, however, as soon as this pattern begins, all hell breaks loose and the topic goes from “Are ZAFT MS too Overpowered in Gundam Seed?” to “Who can make the most irritating 13-year old insults about people sodomizing each other's household pets?” Nothing bothers me more than an entire topic being ruined over useless arguments concerning personal preferences.

Second are reviewer groupies. I thoroughly enjoy reading the forum responses to reviews since it gives me a chance to see how other people have reacted to particular aspects of an anime/ manga and such threads are often helpful in putting words to feelings about something that have escaped me up until that point. Now when I disagree with an individual's review, I tend to treat it like I am critiquing an argument from an academic paper since the reviewer has obviously put in a lot of time for such work and it is only polite to afford them dignified responses. Inadvertently, though, I always seem to rub someone the wrong way by daring to not agree with said reviewer. I see this in a lot of others' posts as well. When a reasonable argument is made and the next six people castigate the fellow for daring to go against someone who “obviously has more anime and manga experience” the discussion immediately takes a wild left at Bonkers Boulevard and often has a hard time getting back on the right track.

When either of these problems flares up on forums, I know that my days enjoying whichever thread they happen upon are typically over and I tend to move on and never return for fear of being irritated to death.

So remember: NO MORE TALKING ABOUT ANY OF THE ABOVE TOPICS IN FORUMS EVER EVER EVER. Unless it's appropriate. In which case go nuts.

Next week, though, I wanted to bring out everybody's artistic side, and possibly shed a little bit of light into something I've been curious about lately:

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.

I am out of space and out of time, so I bid everyone a fond farewell for the week, but of course don't forget to cram my inbox, located at answerman(((at)))animenewsnetwork.com, chock full of your sincere questions on the anime and manga world, as well as your austere Answerfans responses! 'Til next time!

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