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Hey, Answerman! - What's Old is New

by Brian Hanson,

Hey ho, everybody! It's the end of the week and I'm back to tackle another round of questions and the answers that usually follow them.

At least, that's the plan. I'm fighting a cold so I apologize if some of my mucus and other contagions manage to travel through the internet and infect you. Consider yourself warned, I guess.

Hey Answerman! Funimation announced they licensed the next few volumes of the Hellsing Ultimate OVAs, and then we've heard nothing else. What's the story there, will they bring in the original English voice actors? Will they give us more of those awesome limited editions? Are they going to make us wait another year?

Yep, you've heard nothing else because, well, they're not quite ready to announce anything yet.

Here's the thing, though; Funimation likes to do what they can to please the fans when it comes to resurrecting past titles. Er, more accurately, newer versions of past titles. They've done it with Tenchi, they've done it with Slayers; I can't see any reason why they wouldn't do the same with Hellsing.

So, will they bring in the original English dub cast? Probably as much as time and budget will allow. I'd imagine that you'll see much of the dub cast returning - Hellsing was one of the few English dubs that people often cite as being a textbook example of a "good dub," and Funimation knows this. Unfortunately, as is often the case with anything, re-uniting a cast after any sort of hiatus can often be a prohibitive hassle. Trust me, I work in theater.

Will they come out with awesome limited editions? I dunno, does Funimation like making money? I'd bet that they do. They seem to.

Will they "make you wait another year"? Hey, these things take time, and Funimation is obviously still working on their own titles that've been prepared long before they snatched up the rights to Hellsing Ultimate. They'll get to it when they have the opportunity to, and once the ball starts rolling, you can bet that they'll put up a press release and a dub cast list and an Amazon pre-order link and lots of hooplah on Twitter and whatnot. It could take another year, it could take sooner, but I'm betting on it taking approximately as long as you specifically don't want to wait.

Funimation's not taking its time with Hellsing Ultimate just to torture people. I mean, Christ, the Hellsing Ultimate episodes themselves only get made every leap year, it feels like. So just be patient, damn it.

I realize that there could be non-business reasons, but could there be legit business reasons for Tokyopop not to publish Hetalia #3 before they shut down? It was scheduled to be available on May 31, meaning it presumably would have been shipped out before that date even if they weren't shutting down. Hetalia #1 was on the New York Times manga best seller list for 21 weeks, Hetalia #2 was on the NYT manga best seller list for 13 weeks (8 of those weeks with Hetalia #1). Only 3 volumes have been published in Japan, and it's a 4-koma manga, so later volumes not being published wouldn't be an issue. I would have thought Tokyopop would have kept it on schedule, maybe moving it up a few days, since it would be a sure money maker, probably the surest money maker they could publish before shutting down. Any thoughts?

For the answer to this, I'd suggest listening to the recent ANNcast episode where they fully dissect Tokyopop's corpse.

To wit: Hetalia is hardly the only thing that was on Tokyopop's docket that was unceremoniously left unfinished when the company called it quits. In Hetalia's case, I wouldn't worry too much, honestly - some other intrepid manga publisher will quickly swoop in to license-rescue Hetalia, but quick. It's too popular to not be license rescued. You'll see the third volume of Hetalia sooner than you probably know.

I mean, as far as the question of "why don't they just publish it?" goes... the company's done. They're over. They've moved on, they have no interest in publishing anymore, so they won't. Doesn't matter that they just left a big pile of money lying in front of them if they went ahead and quickly dumped the third Hetalia volume on store shelves before turning off the lights in the building. They're done, done, done.

There's a lot of questions about Tokyopop's demise, but the sad truth is that we'll probably never know why certain... obvious moneymaking endeavors were left unfulfilled. Until Stu Levy, later in life, writes some obscene tell-all book filled with tales of Robert Evans-like indulgence. Until then, though.

Hi Answerman,

I come before you as a humble fangirl who hopes to see an end to her suffering – namely, a hope of seeing a re-release stateside of a series that didn't get much of a fair shake when it first hit North American shores – Saint Seiya.

After the disastrous run of the dub (in all of its Gatorade-blood-and-nailpolish unglory) on Cartoon Network, followed by ADV Films' much, much better release that ended on a terrible cliffhanger of episode 60 and then never saw the light of day again when the company closed its doors, I had all but given up on ever seeing the remaining episodes in any format other than a torrent of a bootleg subtitled by someone who clearly speaks neither English nor Japanese as a first language. Despite Viz's release of the full manga, the anime version seemed doomed to fade into obscurity in the United States.

However! I have noticed, to my delight, a surge in popularity with the release of Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, and added to that news of Toei's CG revival movie in honor of the series' anniversary. I've also noticed that there's been an increase in Saint Seiya merchandise stateside – keychains, wallscrolls, and even the first ever US release of the Myth Cloth line have been creeping their way in via North American distributors. Does any of this mean that we may, just may, have a chance at seeing a proper release for this series after all?

Dear Fangirl,

It is my sad duty, as an internet columnist, to inform you... that I am about to break your heart.

Yes, that's right. I have taken a solemn oath, an unbreakable bond of blinding truth, to tell you news that you do not want to hear.

Sadly... the likelihood of Saint Seiya being re-released in the US, complete and unadulterated, in any form... are statistically zero. There's too many things to list, honestly: It's old, way old at this point. It never really sold all that well in its initial release. It's all just a little too much to hope that the show will ever, in any way, find a new home in the United States.

Granted, I could be very, very wrong, and tomorrow Funimation could call me up and be all, "HEY MAN F--- WHAT YOU THINK, WE'RE RELEASIN' SAINT SEIYA UNCUT ON DVD IN A WEEK" and I'll be the first person to admit my mistake, in as public and humiliating an apology as possible.

But, I mean... when, in recent memory, has this happened? We're basically at the tail-end of license-rescues in the anime realm, here in 2011 - all the good stuff that actually sold well the first time has already been brought back or it's been announced. There's a reason that we haven't seen much lately in the license-rescue front... all the top-tier titles that companies actually want have already been taken. The stuff that's left is the sales equivalent of detritus. Stuff that nobody wants or that nobody knows what to do with.

I'd wager that there're probably a few companies who probably want Saint Seiya; I've noticed that that show is a pretty love-it-or-don't-get-it sort of thing. The fans who dig it are crazy about it, and I'm sure that companies have noticed that. But, what do you do with something as out-and-out insane as Saint Seiya these days? You can't sell it to kids; DiC proved that. It didn't really move units when it was uncut on DVD. What's left? Streaming? And then you've got to factor in the cost of licensing such a property in the first place, which I can't imagine is cheap. Saint Seiya doesn't do much here in the US, but overseas it's a global hit. And of course in Japan, it's officially a series that Cannot Stay Dead. Every two or three years there's a new movie, or a new OAV series, or something.

So, that said. If anything regarding Saint Seiya was ever to find a new home in the US, I'd wager that the newer movies - and especially this new-fangled CGI feature - have a much larger chance of being licensed than the original series.

In short, I'm sorry that I had to break your heart, but don't give up on that hope. There's always a chance, no matter how small, that whatever your Favorite Show Ever is can potentially get license-rescued and get a shiny new DVD (or Blu Ray!) release here in America. Even if it's statistically, unbelievably unlikely.

Hot damn, it's Answerfans! Time for me to shut my big stupid mouth and let you guys take center stage and opine a thing or two about a thing or two! This week, I was curious about what you had to say about...

Anthony starts by stressing usability, searchability, and other -ilities:

This has been a question I've been pondering since last fall when I upgraded my primary home television to a Sony Google TV. I originally went with a web enabled Samsung TV, but found that the apps available were very limited and performance was very 'beta'. The biggest issue I found, which I think will be an issue for any anime services, is the splintering of the content available. While the Samsung TV had a variety of video streaming apps, each were through a different provider (Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc.) that required separate existing paid accounts. Each service also offered different libraries of content. Netflix for older content like movies and older TV shows. Hulu offered currently airing stuff and exclusive content. Not much in the way of overlap. Hulu also had the shortsightedness to block web Tv's from viewing add supported video, only offering the paid Hulu Plus subscribers access to their content. I ended up sidestepping this whole issue by getting a Google TV that has a fully functional web browser and using that to access sites directly (besides Hulu).

Now as for what anime providers can do, I think the main issue will be content consolidation. In a unrealistic perfect world, an anime streaming app would offer all anime free, in HD, with no ads date and time of the Japanese broadcast. In the real world, different companies get different shows with different streaming rights. It's easier on a PC to jump around to watch anime from various sources, but an app has to remove the leg work for a more 'lean-back' experience on a TV. An app has to be able to access a large chunk of the anime content available. Not necessarily host it all, but be able to stream content from various partners. The user shouldn't have to worry if the show they want to watch is being offered on Crunchyroll, or Funiamtion via Hulu, or ANN. It should just be a matter of search->find->play. This becomes a greater issue when it comes to paid subscriptions. If a user is paying for an app expecting to access all the current shows that are simulcasting, they are going to get mad quick if they find a show they want to watch is only being offered on a competing paid service. For as much as I have issues with Hulu for blocking devices, they had the right strategy of getting most of the major broadcasters on board from the beginning. This allowed them to offer most of the major content that most users would be looking for to watch.

There also needs to be a free option to users. As I mentioned before, most of the current major services are only offering apps for paid subscribers. This is not going to work for the younger, more net savvy anime crowd. They will stick with whatever is easier and cheaper for them. In other words, fansubs. As a self admitted early watcher of digital fansubs myself(ah, the days of downloading Realplayer encodes of n'th generation Sailormoon S vhs fansubs), I prefer a more legal way of watching stuff. I'm willing to put up with ads and slightly lower quality if the anime is easy to access. I would also pay for a high quality option as long as there was a wide selection available. I think many would take that option if it's available. They could offer a 2-tier system. A lower quality ad supported model and a HD quality ad free subscription. This would be the best of both worlds. Though, I still think the biggest issue will be to offer it all in the simplest way for the more casual TV watchers. Which is to offer anime without having to hunt for it.

Joanna finds the answer to this question in her own living room:

Actually, Netflix has a pretty awesome streaming collection for TV, all things considered. Much of Funimation's collection is on there: Slayers, Aquarion, Full Metal Panic (all seasons), Fullmetal Alchemist (original and half of Brotherhood), InuYasha, Baccano, Chevalier de Eon... etc, etc. I think the price is pretty reasonable as well... getting unlimited "Watch Instantly" is only $8.00 a month. That's almost half what you'd pay to play Final Fantasy Online a month. Ideally, they'd have everything and let you sample some of the newer anime coming out. Also, it'd be nice if Netflix gave some warning about when some anime licenses are coming to an end, as the only way to tell at the moment is to find out stuff simply went missing from your Instant Queue. Telling us when they're about to begin a new series of licenses would be handy, too. Constantly checking and re-checking for new titles is more than a little annoying. Also, one title I can think of, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood only has half of the series on Watch Instantly. The other half are available to watch on DVD but they don't carry a high supply of anime DVD's so you're forced to wait several months for each disk to become available. It's annoying (and costs extra to get the additional DVD rentals). Ideally, of course, we would all have the full seasons for streaming.

For what it is though, I think it's very reasonable. I think I'd pay five or ten bucks more a month to watch everything that's been licensed from anywhere, if I could. But as it stands, I'm not willing to pay much more than my $8.00. Why not more than that? Well, I don't like my monthly payments coming close or exceeding the purchase value of a full season of anime on DVD. It's the same reason I'd never shell out $50.00 a month for Gamefly. If I'm nearly paying the $60 it costs to buy the games I want per month then I'd have pretty much everything I've ever waited on four months out of each year. The same thing applies here.

Sorry, Carlos, but them's the breaks in the realm of Internet Columntatin':

Dang it Brian, you stole my question! ;) Ok, maybe not my exact question, but it was about anime streaming on internet ready HDTVs. :P

I've been playing around with video streaming on my new Vizio M261VP 26" HDTV (great picture, horrible sound) and have been disappointed by the amount of anime offerings. Crunchyroll offers their entire "free" library through the Flingo app. However, their premium content is not available. I found Flingo's interface to be extremely poor and it is difficult to search for series and add them to your queue. One problem is that you can't add a video to your queue without first installing the Flingo desktop app to your PC nor does the app automatically queue the next episode for any series that you are watching. But the biggest problem I have is that it doesn't resume videos that you've stop and leave the app.

Hulu Plus has a much better interface and is not difficult to navigate around. On top of that, H+ is an extension of your regular Hulu account, thus you can manage your H+ queues through Hulu's website or the desktop app. But there are two drawbacks to H+. The first is the offering of anime streaming (which is probably less than 5%) of all anime streams available on Hulu. I would love it if Funimation would make their content available on H+ or that Viz makes more than their oldest series available. The second is that you cannot manage your queue from the H+ app directly, or at least I haven't found a way yet. You can also resume a stream at a later time if you have to leave the app.

So with that said, my ideal anime streaming service would be one with an easy to use interface with a search feature, an expansive library, including simulcasts from Japan, and an multiple ways to manage my queues and subscriptions. It should also include an expansive library of recent and old anime series. I guess in short, I would like Crunchyroll's library with Hulu Plus's services. As for cost, I would tolerate some commercials for free streaming or commercial free or higher quality streams at about $6 to $10 per month.

Alex makes a plea for feasible-ness:

Overall, the industry hasn't been able to decide the best formula for making streams profitable yet, so I think that the television streaming should start with what works- a combination of on-demand programming and standard commercial programming. At a time where anyone can get whatever they want whenever they want it on their computer, it seems silly to deny the consumer the choice of when to watch their anime. At the same time, Hulu has had great success with their formula, adding commercials to internet video. What I propose is having a free on-demand menu, with commercials in them. Alternatively, a user could pay a fee to remove the commercials.

I would also like to see a sort of DVD making device available to the public. I know, computers already do that, but I'm saying would it be feasible to have a machine in one's house that could burn, label, and print a case for the DVD... legally? For example, a user pays a fee, inserts a blank DVD and the machine downloads the source files, then creates a legally-purchased DVD in your own home. I can see this possibly being cheaper than paying store employees, shipping, storage, etc. because the user would be essentially doing all of that themselves! Unfortunately, I can also see this being too expensive for any dubbing company to implement alone, as it would need more than just anime industry support to make this economically feasible to a sensible company.

To close it out, April wants some love for unloved gems:

Hello again, Answerman!

Recently I discovered on iO cable, that Funimation has opened an on demand section alongside the movie rentals. The choices are fairly limited right now, but as you can imagine, I became very excited about this. With the ability to now rent Funi animes on cable, as well as Netflix's beginning to stream shows like FMA: Brotherhood, I think this week's question is hugely relevant to the future of in-home viewing. And if the anime industry hops on the bandwagon, I think it could be a great turning of the tables.

I know Funi gets a lot of flack from sub-purists among other small groups, but I think what they're doing is amazing. Streaming, renting, it's the beginning of getting the anime industry out there alongside big blockbuster hits, and allowing titles to be actually seen by people who don't know anything about the niche.

Cable rental and Netflix are great, Apple TV hasn't jumped in the water yet but I'm sure it will soon.

As far as what I want to see, I want to see those old series that will never get a profitable reprint. Digital streams are probably the cheapest way of getting anime straight to my eyes without having to hire a printing press and packaging designers and all of that. Re-releasing golden oldies via digital stream could thrust them right back up to popularity again. Great shows like Ranma 1/2 and Urusei Yatsura (I'll try not to Rumiko Takahashi-fangirl too hard), have lost their place in the industry as the pioneers of the harem genre, the shows that did it right, of course spawning the endless reuse of their brilliant ideas in ways that get tired and boring quickly.

I want to see old films, and I want to see the more artistically brilliant shows like House of Five Leaves and Gankutsuo, which are masterfully done and beautiful, but difficult to come across if they exist at all. Lastly, I want shows that should have been brought over, a series like Kaiba that excels in so many aspects of storytelling, is so under-appreciated in the states.

Indeed all of this is pretty much fantasy, the most likely case will have us seeing all the brand new flashy shows on demand as they get subbed. And hey, Tiger & Bunny will probably look fantastic on my big screen, but in my fantasy world it would be a real treat to see some of the unloved gems that just never got the exposure they needed to thrive.

Definitely some food for thought there. Hopefully at some point, an intrepid anime company will take the plunge into Internet-enabled TV devices and figure all this crap out.

So! Next week! I felt humbled by the Saint Seiya question, and it got me to thinking... about another title that has been seemingly left alone in American shores for too long, but has been rumored to be undergoing something of a revival. Here's the question already:

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.

Get to it, folks! Meanwhile, I'm off to cram my face full of Vitamin C and attempt to sleep without drowning in a sea of mucus and bile! Remember, again, to drop off a question or two, or three, and an Answerfans response to me over at answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! Bye for now!

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