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Hey, Answerman! - A Support of Sorts

by Brian Hanson,

Well hello everybody! It's that time of the week, which means it's time for me to feverishly wipe the sweat from my brow and plug away at this little thing called Answerman.

And to all my readers and fans (hahaha like I have any fans) who are going to Anime Expo this weekend, sadly! I'm unable to join you all. A complicated set of circumstances deriving from the one-two punch of performing a free comedy show to promote Beowulf Alley Theatre here in Tucson plus the arrival of my kid brother and sister over the summer kind of nixed that opportunity.

But! There's still the outside possibility that I might be making an appearance at another big convention down the road, fingers crossed. And if you're at AX and you happen to run into my good buddies Nico and Kali, you should say hello because they are awesome.

Dear Answerman,

I have recently begun watching Funimation's Blu-Ray release of Samurai 7. On the first disc of the set, during episode 5 specifically, the audio is out of sync on the English language track.

I contacted Funimation about this. They agreed to replace the disc. Their first attempt resulted in them sending the second disc instead of the first one like I clearly specified. Eventually they sent the correct disc. This disc also has the same issue. I tested it on multiple brands of Blu-Ray players connected to various televisions. Same result every time.

I contacted Funimation to inquire if there was indeed a corrected disc. This was their response:

If the issue is present on your replacement disk, then it is likely on all sets that we have in inventory. For a minor audio sync issue we will not be re-authoring. I do apologize, but we will be unable to provide a disk with this corrected issue on this single episode.

Product Concerns

A minor audio issue. An entire episode out of sync. This is a "minor" issue to them. I can understand it is expensive to re-author a disc to correct an issue like this. People will say it's not a big deal.

I can't disagree enough. This is ridiculous. How can they treat their customers this way? How can that be their attitude towards the quality of their products? It's broken and not worth fixing. Seriously. I would expect that from companies that have nothing but contempt for their customers like Sony. But a major player in the American anime market?

They couldn't be bothered to test the disc before replicating it. Pathetic. I guess the market is so strong and their sales are so good, it doesn't matter to them if I no longer buy their products and encourage others to do likewise.

I guess my question is, what recourse do I have. Do I have to rip, re-encode, and re-author the disc myself. Something that Funimation can't be bothered to do? Do I need to download this just to have an acceptable copy? Is Funimation encouraging me to "pirate" from them? If I do that they will take me to court right? Then they will drop the case when a judge laughs at them and their "amine" problems as they have in the past, correct?

I don't pirate anime. I do my part to support the industry and I'm disgusted to be treated this way for my loyalty and support.

Okay, I'll start off first by saying that yes this royally sucks and you have a good reason to be pissed off but there's a few things I want to clear up.

First off, I can assure you that they definitely did check the disc before replicating it. They've got a decent QA team over there at Funimation HQ that is usually quite perceptive at noticing problems like this. But, hey, y'know, sometimes these things happen out of nowhere - and often happen at the replicator, not during the QA process (see Bandai for a whole load of examples of this happening). Especially with a format as temperamental as Blu Ray. I'm not making excuses, mind you, but I just wanted to point out that yes, they did check the disc, but sometimes, even for the most experienced and moneyed studios, technical gaffes slip through once in a while.

Second, nobody is doubting your commitment to supporting this industry in any way, and the perceived curt response you got from Funimation is not indicative of the company as a whole's attitude towards its fans or its products. The fact that they consider this a "minor" issue is not them passing any sort of judgment against you or its customers; it's merely PR speak for an issue that would be too costly to replace this late in the game. That said, I'd advise their PR people not to refer to something one of their customer's complained about as a "minor issue." That's not good form, really.

Apologies aside, you're right, you bought a broken product and they won't (or more appropriately, can't) fix it. That does indeed suck. And it's not just your copy; it appears that all of them have that same issue, from what I've read about it from other reviews. So, what to do about it?

Well, you've already done the responsible thing, which is to notify the company that they released a busted disc. They've stated their position on the topic, and that's supposedly that. What next?

Honestly, I'm always uncomfortable telling people what they "should" do insofar as consumer justice is concerned. I'm more the sort of person to grin and bear any substandard product and be grateful for the rest of it. I can't tell you how furious I was about the "remastered" Castle of Cagliostro DVD, that freeze-framed the opening credits of the movie to insert English credits and sacrificed the gorgeous animation. Whoops, I guess I just did. Anyway, I was still grateful that the rest of the movie was cleaned up and in proper widescreen and all that.

Suffice to say that you're not alone in your anger over this Samurai 7 issue, and that whatever steps you take on your own to fix things are yours and yours alone, though that won't stop people like myself and others from calling you out if you do something like, say, piracy. Two wrongs never make a right, as the saying goes. I guess my point is that you're in that crappy and unenviable position of being damned if you do, damned if you don't. Short of possibly starting a campaign with fellow jilted Samurai 7 fans to convince Funimation to re-author the defective disc, or perhaps re-authoring it yourself in a grand display of Justin Sevakis-like technowizardry.

Hey Brian, I was thinking about what usually goes on the "extra features" part of new anime releases on DVD/BD. You've got your standard fare, like production and concept art, clean opener/closer, and if its a particularly popular show, some episode commentary with the ADV director and/or voice actors. However, what I have rarely seen are voiceover bloopers, and I'm wondering why this is. The only series in recent memory I can remember doing this is Ouran High School Host Club, and if I remember correctly, I think some releases of Negima! had them as well. I know I loves me some hi-larious hijinks, and so do a lot of folk, so why isn't this a more common "extra feature"?

I, also, enjoy blooper reels, as do many people. Usually just on principle. Even if they're not actually funny (which, more often than not, they aren't), it falls as a part of that wonderful American past time of Schadenfreude. We like watching people screw up. From powerful politicians ruining their lives and careers through infidelity, to YouTube videos of kids on bikes crashing into poles and getting hit in the junk. We do so much take pleasure in the mistakes and gaffes of others.

And there's a few of them that are actually, genuinely hilarious. Most of the Rurouni Kenshin gag reels are pretty good, not to mention the now-classic Berzerk outtakes.

So, why aren't there more of them? Eh, well - there's really no budget or time for any extras, what with dubs in and of themselves becoming a rarity, so the extra time to edit and author a couple minutes of voice actors goofing off usually isn't in the cards.

To say nothing of the Japanese licensors, who I can't imagine would ever want such a thing to exist. Hence why there's plenty of gag reels that get screened at conventions, but are never actually printed on disc.

But, if you like 'em, tell the companies that you'd like to see more of them! I can vociferously state with utter fact that the majority of an actors' time is spent goofing around and screwing up, and if I could ever capture on film some of the spectacular f***-ups and whatnot on behalf of actors that I've experienced directing plays, I could probably be a rich man. These are the sorts of extras that people either genuinely like or at the very least are unperturbed by, so there's no real reason not to do them aside from the fact that they simply don't have the time to squeeze them onto the final disc or that the Japanese license holder doesn't want them using footage of their show for the sake of a few gags.

Dear Answerman,

I finished reading The Five Star Stories a while ago, and I was a bit annoyed that the last two volumes haven't been released in English. But then I started thinking, and, in my folly, I considered – please stop here if you wish not to squirt whatever you are drinking out your nose – buying the rights and publishing them myself. (Stupid, yes, I know.) But then I wondered: what actually goes into the translation and publishing of a volume from Japanese into English? How large is the budget for these operations, and who works on them?

Oh God my iced tea! It just spewed out of my nose and onto my laptop! It is covered in snot and Hibiscus!

Good for you, by the way! I like this much better than the usual "merrr the manga i love isn't coming in english I NEED TO DEPOSIT MY RAGE AND DISAPPOINTMENT." Instead, you're taking up arms and rolling up your sleeves and asking when to get to work. That's the American Way! July 4th! Woo!!!

Anyway. The logistics of translating a manga in and of itself isn't that complicated. All you need is a good translator who knows what they're doing, a good graphic artist (or two) who knows how to make stuff look good on a page, and of course the budget to pay those people for the work that they do. And of course, as we all know, scanlation groups do that all the time, for free, basically. (Although we'll table the argument about whether or not the translators or the graphic artists actually "know" what they're doing, for now.)

No, the difficult part comes in the form of getting the license in the first place. You've got to find the company that owns the license, find a way to allow you to talk to them, and of course convince them that you and your crew know what they're doing and that you'll be able to make a profit doing so. If this were a smaller, fly-by-night manga publisher without much exposure to the US manga market, that would be one thing. But Five Star Stories is owned by Kadokawa Shoten. They've had plenty of exposure to the Western market, and they're highly unlikely to take an outside pitch from an independent publisher instead of working with companies they've had business with in the past.

So, is it impossible? In regards to Five Star Stories, kinda sorta. I would say, though, that I love the idea of young upstarts taking the reins of Western localization into their own hands and starting their own company, but for that, it's best to start... small.

God damnit, not this again.

Hello, I wanna ask for permission too be uploading Fairy Tail episodes on YouTube, my YouTube channel is name "FairyTailsHDEpisodes" and i really wanna be a help for people who is stuck with the time limit ion MegaVideo, etc, also it will be much easier to find, please allow me to upload episodes off Fairy Tail, i'd really appreciate it.

You don't own Fairy Tail, *I* don't own Fairy Tail, knock it off already. Dingus.

Finally! Time for me to stop talking! Last week I wanted to know your personal Anime Expo-related plans for no nefarious purpose whatsoever. Unfortunately, I only got one response. C'mon, now! I would say that I'm disappointed in ALL OF YOU but that would make me seem like sort of a dick. So oh well.

Mark! My one and only respondent! Tell me your AX plans, if you please:

Hey Answerman!

What am I doing at Anime Expo? Why of course I'm watching anime! What, is something else also going on there? In all seriousness, this years line-up of video programming looks quite strong. Here are a couple of shows I'm really looking forward to:

Onigamiden (Friday 2:30 p.m., Concourse Hall) - Don't know much about this except it's directed by the guy who directed Spriggan, which itself was a pretty good film. I believe this is the US premiere so I'll give it a shot.

Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (Friday 4:30 p.m., Sunday 9:00 p.m. Concourse Hall) - This premiered in Japan in February 2010, played in limited release in the US last summer and yet I still can't purchase a Region 1 DVD of it. What are they waiting for, everyone to forget that the movie ever came out? I am looking forward to seeing it (finally) but would really like to own a copy of it (finally).

Arakawa Under the Bridge (Saturday 12:30 p.m., Concourse Hall) - What a kickass show, I'm very happy that this is getting a US release. Funny, poignant, an anime not about kids in high school, it's a rare gem. Plus it's being intro'd by Miyuki Sawashiro who voices Maria.

LAST EXILE II - Fam, The Silver Wing (Saturday, 2:00 p.m., Concourse Hall) - The original series Last Exile was beautifully animated with gorgeous art design, the story was a bit convoluted but entertaining. It will be interesting to see how much of the original design carries over. Plus it's a world premiere, gotta see it to score some indie cred.

Not to mention all the other great stuff they're showing. It's going to be a long weekend of viewing...

Not bad. See guys? Not that hard. Doesn't always have to be exciting, so long as it's well-written. I'm just interested in what you think, damn it.

Let's try this again, then. Next week, I want to put you all in a hypothetical situation:

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'm out for now! Have fun at AX for all of you who're going, and for those of you who can't make the trip, my good buddies here at ANN will be posting all sorts of fun stuff, so keep your eye-holes glued to this here website. And don't forget, of course, to respond, reply, or questionize me over at answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! Have fun, everyone!

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