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Hey, Answerman!
Color Me Surprised

by Brian Hanson,

Man alive! Throwing together these last-minute sketch comedy shows is crazy. Just in case I haven't mentioned it before. Even though I believe I have.

Nonetheless, here are three carefully selected questions of varying intent and rigor that I have chosen to answer for this week:

Hey, Answerman.

I flipped through the first volume of Tegami Bachi today and found a color page inside. I was kinda surprised by this because most manga I've read will change any color pages from the original Japanese and just print them in black and white. So I was wondering, why do most American manga make color pages black and white instead of keeping them in color?

For the specific case of Tegami Bachi, I can't specifically say one way or another why they kept the color pages in, but! Generally, there's a lot of different reasons why the color pages tend to come to Western shores sans the color.

First of all, there's simply the cost. I know it's not a huge expenditure to print a few color pages, but for, say, a Shonen Jump title, a title for which they'll be printing hundreds of thousands of copies, it adds up. That sounds like a bit of a sop, considering that your typical manga volume probably won't have more than a half-dozen color pages at most, but... it still adds up, and any way that companies can cut down costs in the face of rampant piracy, imploding bookstores, and other such financial concerns are probably considered a good idea.

And then, there's the case which, more often than not, the Western manga publishers simply aren't given the color pages in the First Place. Now, why that is, I'm not entirely sure, because it doesn't seem like it makes a whole lot of sense. Americans have been reading graphic novels in color for years, and it actually wasn't all that long ago when a manga like Akira had to be colorized in order for it to be deemed "marketable" in the US and other countries.

Suffice to say that like many nice things we don't get here in America, the real reason we don't get as many color manga pages (beyond what you typically see in the first printing of a graphic novel that had color pages originally) as our brethren from Japan is likely the result of bizarre cost-cutting and/or mismanagement and confusion from the Japanese licensor. Neither one of them is a particularly good reason as to why we seem to be denied nice things, but the bottom line is that typically, somebody in charge doesn't think we should have them.

Case Closed is an anime that didn't get much of a chance from Funimation. It's liked by more than 6,000 (about 7,000) people on facebook and the numbers are growing more all the time. The poor marketing and terrible time slots on TV didn't help the series. When Funimation's license runs out for Case Closed do you think another company would license/dub the rest of the seasons? They only did 6 movies and the first 5 seasons.

Uh, I would actually argue that Case Closed got quite the chance from Funimation. In fact, I'd say, without a shred of doubt in my mind, that Funimation did as right by Case Closed as any anime series could ever hope for. The localization was fantastic, the show was very well promoted, and it ran on cable television for Christ's sake. Funimation really bet the farm on Case Closed. Or at least the barn on it. Didn't entirely work out for them, but oh well. I, for one, greatly enjoyed the fruits of their labor.

And, I mean, come the hell on now. "They only did 6 movies and the first 5 seasons." THAT'S STILL A SHITLOAD OF SHOW. That is, approximately, 3,790 minutes worth of Case Closed that came to our shores, in English. That's over 60 hours of a show that they still didn't give a "chance" apparently. Compare that with any number of other beloved series from that era that will never again receive that kind of support. Fist of the North Star. Saint Seiya. So, so many others.

They gave Case Closed the chance of a lifetime, and it did about as well as it probably could have in this environment, and so, there will be no more. This is not a cause celebre to be postulating wild theories about "other" companies (who, exactly?) that would be willing to pick up where Funimation left off, especially for a title that was extraordinarily well-promoted that still underwhelmed in sales. Nay, nay! This is a chance to be grateful, thankful, and humble about getting so many episodes out of a great show, well done episodes at that, considering that any other company but Funimation would've probably written the show off after the first or second season.

And, sorry, but a Facebook page is the 2010-era equivalent of the early 2000-era web petition; it's nice that all those people say that they "like" Case Closed, and that they very well potentially maybe would gladly pay another $29.99 MSRP for more volumes of Case Closed from another licensor, but where's the proof, exactly? Because I'll tell you where the proof lies: Funimation decided not to produce more Case Closed episodes because of low sales. This, after 6 movies, and 5 seasons. That, right there, is all the proof anyone ever needs.

Dear Answerman,

As I looked through the new 2011 summer anime article, I couldn't help but notice that most of the shows are broadcasted on an odd schedule, almost all of them -even the ones on weekdays - being shown late at night after 12:00am. Could I assume from this that all these shows target only adult population seeing as school kids usually have class early the next day? Is this evidence that enthusiasm for new anime in Japan is on a steady decline and that these new shows are made just to please an otaku audience? Or has this always been the case, and that these shows produce so little commercial value that they just found a slot to dump them in. Anyway, I hope you can get to as many of these questions as you can because I'm very curious of the outlook of anime in coming years, whether it be otaku fodder, or genuine creativity - this being a tiny piece of that puzzle.

Well, let's draw somewhat of a corollary to cartoons here in the US. Setting aside cable networks that air cartoons non-stop (mostly), think about the usual timeslots for animated TV series. There are some slots open for child-friendly cartoons on weekend mornings, and a whole slew of animated programs for "adults" late at night. With a few odds and ends here that wind up on prime-time TV.

I've noticed that sometimes, fans have this odd perception that anime, as they see it, is this culturally pervasive, ubiquitous thing in Japan. It really isn't. There are a few family-friendly shows that draw huge audiences that air in prime time (Detective Conan, Doraemon, One Piece), kids shows that air in the mornings over the weekend (Pokémon), and a whole mess of shows that air late at night for the austere, "mature" individual (everything else). To the vast majority of the Japanese populace, "anime" is basically for kids and teenagers and otherwise socially maladjusted, lonely shut-ins. Huh. That sounds familiar.

At the same time, though, it's important not to read too much into timeslots. Chiefly because, as DVD and Blu Rays and online streaming continue to erode the viability of television, the entire concept of "timeslots" is becoming increasingly irrelevant. We're quickly moving into a space wherein all of us can choose whatever we want to watch, whenever we want it; TV listings be damned. Even though the entire TV industry in Japan is resistant to change, it's no real secret that most of the anime series that are scheduled at 12:00am or later aren't really destined to be any sort of TV ratings smash; they're looking to build fans that later translate into DVD sales and merchandising. Just like, I dunno, Adult Swim isn't expecting Squidbillies to do anything more than confuse and frustrate the general viewer who is flipping through channels at one in the morning. That's not the sort of show that will draw in a huge audience through TV, and the same goes for anime in Japan. They will simply take whatever timeslot on TV that they can get.

And to that end, yes, much of the stuff that gets aired that late at night certainly is "otaku fodder," but a good portion of those shows that have no choice but to be aired that late at night certainly do push the creative envelope. Again, they're just happy with whatever timeslot they can find, knowing that the TV airing is simply leverage for a hopefully successful home video/merchandising run.

And thus we return to the hallowed halls of Answerfans, wherein I shut my big fat yap and let you, the reader, take pride in having your voices heard and such. Last week, in the midst of my Big Dumb Summer Movie Binge, I wanted to know your thoughts on something:

To begin with, it sounds like Sam's been around the "In Development" block a few times:

I doubt it'll happen. The only one I can see being made is Battle Angel because a) a movie about a cyborg bounty huntress going after cyborg criminals in a dystopian future sounds doable, and b) it's James Cameron. After the trouble he had with Avatar and Titanic, something like this should be a walk in the park for him.

That said, there's only so much you can hear about a movie being “In Development” before you stop caring and move on. And well...most animes just sound too hard to make a live action movie out of. The fact that all the (American) anime based movies made so far have sucked has discouraged Hollywood. And quite frankly, I hope they never happen. (If they can't make a good Dragon Ball movie, then Bleach will be a complete nightmare.)

Nina says the kindest thing ever said about Dragonball: Evolution when she calls it a "disappointment":

I don't know if Hollywood will give even Cameron half a bil to make Battle Angel for one reason: track record. Transformers aside, the anime (and dare we add manga/manwha) adaptations before have disappointed from Dragonball: Evolution (for a number of reasons, but that's a whole 'nother email) to Speed Racer. Priest should've worked, but it was almost like by the time that finally got to production the scriptwriters didn't care anymore and it went south from there. They were lucky to make back the production budget. If I hold the purse string to a studio I'm thinking what's gone before just proves anime in the grand scheme of things is "art house" indie and isn't worth the giant investment. If I hold the purse strings and know anything about anime, I realize many of the properties mentioned in the question aren't the things to translate to the general movie audience. Akira could if you play up the horror aspects in its sci fi and make it R rated, Battle Angel if she's getting revenge or saving someone from the Evil Empire. I also realize most of the time by the time I make a movie out of the hot title, it's no longer hot, so I better go for something timeless and universal OR be able to move fast. Like I'd've pounced on a live action Vampire Knight last year and be scheduling for a fall 2012 release. If I had such power to move rights, money, writers, actors and crew that fast. Or I'd go ahead and do a DBZ movie (stress on Z) for grown ups and with today's audience expectation in mind. In either case, I'd rename them, invest no more than 60 mil (one thing Priest did right) and not allude once in the promo that they were from anime or graphic novels or anything. The anime fans will know; the general public doesn't care. But most folks at Hollywood studios don't know, so we go back to the vicious cycle.

I'm more curious about Starz announcement of a live action Noir TV show, which could play well to Nikita-type fans. If that fairs well, maybe it will spark interest in a new outlet for adaptations.

I should mention that Ben officially described his answer as a "spiel":

My personal opinion is that the only one of the big budget live-action anime adaptions that might actually be made is Battle Angel: Aelita because of the reason you pointed out. Hollywood loves James Cameron and would back any project he proposed. The other adaptations though? There have only been two Hollywood anime adaptations in recent memory, Dragonball: Evolution and Speed Racer. Dragonball: Evolution was frankly not very good, and the box office numbers confirmed it. Speed Racer was basically a live action anime, and it didn't do to well either, although that may be because it wasn't Matrix 2.0.

Anime tends to be rather insane and would require a massive special effects budget, which is apparently what is holding the Keanu Reeves Cowboy Bebop adaptation back, or it requires a leap of faith that Hollywood doesn't seem to be willing to take. What I think would help (even though it would never happen) is that a major Hollywood studio funds a Japanese made film, like the Space Battleship Yamato live action film that came out last year with an eye for international release. Warner Brothers occasionally funds Anime films, like Brave Story or Summer Wars but they rarely actually do anything with it outside of Japan.

And finally, don't worry Jared, because nobody aside from James Cameron and maybe two or three other people in the WEST. have ever heard of Battle Angel:

With regard to this week's question, I think any of the three properties could eventually make it to the silver screen. In the last decade, Hollywood has become increasingly keen to adapt 'geek' properties. When superhero movies begin to lose their appeal (that may take 500 years, I know) the major studios could look to adapting well known Anime properties, and few are bigger than Akira and Evangelion.

The major hangup with that will be the nature of at least two of those properties. Akira and Evangelion are visually challenging projects that are going to be very difficult to render in the more realistic medium of film. (I can't speak much to Battle Angel as well...I've never seen it. It's shameful, I know.) The narratives are also very different from what mainstream audiences in the US are used to, but Hollywood has shown that it doesn't mind remixing the elements of animated property in the name of perceived marketability.

But enough about movies that we'll probably never see! Coming up next weekend we're seeing two of the biggest cons of the season, and so, for those of you venturing into the warm climes of Southern California, I want to know what it is you're up to:

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 don't know about you guys, but I'm out of material. I'll be back next week of course, but until then don't forget to drop some knowledge as well as requests for knowledge into my little e-mail inbox, located conveniently at answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! Keep it real, guys and girls!

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