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Hey, Answerman!
Double Dip

by Brian Hanson,

Hey, everyone!

We all nice n' cozy, ready to read some potentially enlightening answers to some earnest questions? I mean, it's okay if you're not.

Just, just go ahead and open up another tab. Yeah. Refresh Gawker, see if anything new has popped up yet. I'll still be hangin' around. No concerns here. Take your time.

Help, Answerman!

I'm a little frustrated. I've been buying the Dragon Ball Kai Blu Rays as they've been coming out, but now, of course... Funimation is re-releasing the ORIGINAL Dragon Ball Z series on Blu Ray. I hate, HATE double-dipping, but the completest in me simply won't have it any other way. I'm mainly upset because if I buy them, I'd hate to be sending Funimation the message that it's OK to keep selling me the same series over and over again. Or am I thinking about this way too much?

Well, maybe you're overthinking it. Maybe. If it helps, try thinking of these two things as... different products.

Dragon Ball Z Kai is basically the sort of nice thing that is enticing because, in a sense, it's new. Much like when the "Final Cut" of Blade Runner was released, I had no qualms at all with doubling-down on my Blade Runner purchases; A good 99% of which consisted of content I've seen before, dozens of times before, but it had been re-crafted in a way that I had not seen yet, with some shiny bonus things that were so very enticing.

Not that I'm saying Dragon Ball Z Kai is as marked an improvement over the original series as the Final Cut is to Blade Runner, but you know what I mean. The arrangement of the individual pieces (although in this case, shortening of the original pieces) is, technically, a new product, and Funimation has been marketing it as such.

And by and large, judging from the assorted reactions of DBZ fans both die-hard and casual across the internet aisle, the reaction to Kai has been that, through the profound gift of hindsight, it is the sort of preferred version when it comes to, I understand, re-watching the series. So basically what I'm saying is, keep buyin' those DBZ Kai sets, because they're worth it.

Now, do you need the original series on Blu Ray? If you're an absolute completest, and you just need to have all ninety-billion episodes of DBZ in its original languid form in hi-def, then... go for it, because it's a very different product at this point. I don't necessarily think of it as "double-dipping," really, because the end result is vastly dissimilar. The new sets will give you the original episodes in their original Japanese broadcast form, with every 50-some episode arc of dudes grunting intact. For the die-hard fans, that is crucial, and if there's one thing Funimation tends to do well in regards to DBZ, it's cater to the die-hardest of the die-hards.

Essentially, you're overthinking things in the sense that you think you're basically paying twice for the same thing, which isn't at all the case. They're two different shows, really. So long as you keep that in mind, you can either pick and choose, or go the completest route and buy 'em all.

Your money, your choice, buddy. That simple.

Does simulcasting, having titles available for free (for example) on Crunchyroll, keep certain titles from ever getting a home video release? Is this solely because they would never get a DVD release anyway, or would titles like Beast Player Erin, Hanasuku Iroha, Skip Beat, Reborn, Natsume, Shugo Chara, Zakuro, Heroman and now Bunny Drop possibly have shot at a physical release? And what can keep a proven success (such as Skip Beat) from getting a home video release, considering how huge it's streaming numbers have been?

Well, hopefully with all this Funico nonsense, all this streaming-against-DVD bloodshed will come to a triumphant end, and together all new shows will live both online and on DVD or Blu Ray in a peaceful, blissful harmony, surrounded by cherubic glows, feasting upon the ambrosia of the land!

But, in case Funico doesn't turn out to be the panacea, there's a few things about streaming-versus-DVD that are pretty simple. First of all, Crunchyroll is a streaming site. I mean, duh, but listen; Aside from the odd Makoto Shinkai joint, Crunchyroll has no real interest or financial incentive to release anything they have the license to on DVD. Funimation had a streaming service, but by and large it was a place for them to preview series and titles they had already licensed and that they had every desire to release on DVD. (With some notable exceptions, of course.) The sheer mechanical operations of the two markets, streaming versus DVD, are so different that it's rather hard to compare the two.

And it's not just about the numbers. A show that'll sell well on DVD might not set the streaming numbers on fire, and vice versa. You can license a show for streaming that skews a younger audience and it'll probably do fine online, but good luck getting the typically-older DVD-buying crowd to give a damn about it. If, say, Legend of the Galactic Heroes somehow wound up on Crunchyroll in the near future, I doubt it would put too big a strain on their servers, but you put that sucker on DVD, it'll sell out in days (provided they pulled a Garden of Sinners and released it in a crazy expensive box set at an extremely limited print run). So basically, it all boils down to a case-by-case basis: the free nature of online streaming has little, all told, to do with a DVD release, inasmuch as it depends on simple demographic appeal.

So, let's just run down the list, then! Bear in mind I'm not passing any sort of subjective judgment here, just noting what factors are working against them getting a DVD release. Beast Player Erin: skews too young, and it's 50 episodes long, which in these days of 11-episode series' is a bit much. Hanasaku Iroha: would probably have a built-in audience that would buy all the DVDs, but are they big enough to justify the expense? I'm guessing not really. Skip Beat: we all know Shojo Manga sells like hotcakes, but Shojo anime? Not so much. Reborn: a 203-episode Shonen series about hitmen? Like, with guns and stuff? Yeah, that's easy to sell on Nickelodeon/Disney XD/Cartoon Network/ what-have-you. Natsume: this show out of everything mentioned so far probably has (er, had) the highest potential to really truly sell some DVDs, so who knows what's up with that. Or at least, the people who DO know probably aren't at liberty to say. Shugo Chara: if this series had come around before 2006, Geneon or ADV would've probably snapped it up in a heartbeat. 'Tis a different landscape now. Zakuro: yet ANOTHER series that would've had the chance to prosper many years ago, sadly. Heroman: considering this has the name "STAN LEE" emblazoned all over it, there's probably some sort of money-related conundrum that's keeping it off of DVD shelves. And finally, Bunny Drop: I wouldn't count this one out just yet, because it's only a few months old at this point and the fans absolutely love it. Give it at least another couple of months before considering it a lost cause on the DVD front.

So essentially, like with most excuses for things, it all comes down to money. Does it make strict, financial sense to release something like Reborn on DVD? Do the demographics match up? If not, then it's a no. Unless it fits within the purview of a niche publisher like NIS America or something. There's no strict by-the-numbers metric to state that free streaming hurts the chances of a series hitting your DVD shelf - either the series will sell strictly on its face, or it won't.

But again, let's see how this Funico deal shakes things up, because that venture has the chance to totally turn the world of licensing upside down. Potentially. Potentially.

Is anime a hobby?

Is there some threshold you can cross to make it into a hobby? Or some side aspect of it (like collecting figs) that is a hobby?

Should I even care if it's a hobby? Do I really need to be able to say it's a hobby? Can I just have diversions, or whatever other sub-hobby term you might use?

I am both the best and worst person to ask this question, because I feel very strongly about this!

I hate, hate meaningless labels. I hate them. Unless you work in marketing, nobody really cares about what you call yourself or whatever you name what you do in your spare time. I'd like to think that as adults, or adults in spirit, we're all too busy with our damn lives to get too uptight about what you call your extra-curricular activites. So long as you're a happy, genuine person who is both happy and genuine about what you're doing, other happy, genuine people will let you have your happy, genuine fun and we will all live happily and genuinely!

But of course if it's a semantics argument you want, I guess I can play along. I don't count "watching anime" as a hobby any moreso than watching TV or movies is a hobby. It's not, really; we all watch colors move on a screen in some form or another. Doesn't matter what it is, the basic "activity" therein is exactly the same. Being "an anime fan," could, I suppose, be considered sort of a hobby in and of itself, because there are a lot of "activities" within that description: cosplay, figure collecting, DVD collecting, blogging, fanart, convention gathering, all that stuff. But of course! Some anime fans don't cosplay or collect DVDs but they love blogging and drawing fanart, other fans love going to cons and collecting DVDs but can't stand cosplay, and... lots of different variations therein. There are many, many parts that make up the collective "anime fan" experience that can be considered "hobbies" in and of themselves, and some people partake in all of them and others stick to only one.

Gah, it's so nebulous that it's sort of meaningless. Which is basically my way of saying that no, you shouldn't care. And neither should anyone else for that matter. Everyone does need a hobby, sure, but anime isn't a "hobby." It is, to be a douche and quote the Dictionary, "Japanese movie and television animation." So don't waste precious brain matter worrying about how to categorize yourself in the grand sphere of hobbyists as it relates to anime. Call yourself an Anime fan, or an Otaku, or a... Hibbledybib, for all it matters. Because it doesn't. We, as anime fans and other similes, don't need to stack ourselves next to other "hobbies" for comparison, because it's silly.

Rant over! Now for something in a lighter vein.

It's been a while since I've had a thoroughly bizarre letter from parts abroad.

Hello! I'm a journalist and I work in a cultural quiz show for the Spanish Television. My work consists in writing the questions and checking if they are correct and well formulated. Now I would like to confirm a question about anime. Maybe you can help me. The question is:

Which of these pairs of cartoon played volleyball?

A) Mazinger Z & Afrodita A

B) Oliver & Benji (Captain Tsubasa)

C) Juana & Sergio (Atakkâ you!)

D) Banner & Flappy (Seton Dôbutsuki Risu no bannâ)

E) Candy & Anthony (Candy Candy)

F) David the gnomo & Lisa

We think that good answer is C and the other false. What do you think?


(but I would write in David the gnomo on principle)

Okay party peoples, time for me to shut my damn yap and give the floor to YOUR opinions and insights!

Last week, I was pondering the non-preponderance of older titles in the wake of Osamu Tezuka's birthday last week. So! Here was my question to you all:

We begin with Max, who has a simple solution - JUST GET IT OUT THERE:

I enjoy many classics or at least obscure titles with high artistic merit, from Tezuka's MW to Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys. While I do find myself having a hard time finding fans of, say, Gunbuster, I would argue that Blu-Ray reprints of older shows, such as the aforementioned Gunbuster, or just reprints in general help to draw attention to these older titles. For example, many of Tezuka's classic series from the 70s, like Apollo's Song, Buddha, or Dororo are distributed in America by Vertical, and within the last few years, at that! It just goes to show that older titles still have contemporary value. However, I also would argue that anime and manga are an ultra-diverse pair of media, and so not everyone will be interested in the works of Naoki Urasawa or Katsuhiro Otomo; only people who enjoy graphic novels in themselves and just happen to enjoy certain manga would actively seek out things like Domu or Barefoot Gen, and those people are still around in great numbers if you know where to look; just look at how many older titles win Eisner awards these days. I'd definitely say that there's not much need to worry about the classics being lost in time, but I can't say something like Ghost in the Shell or Wings of Honneamise is for everyone.

Rachel advocates something I also advocate, which is giving historical context for these things. We are CO-ADVOCATES:

While not quite bringing attention to the titles themselves, I've found that some of these books that were published several years ago to be very insightful to America's ways of manga publishing and to Japan's methods as well. One example is Dark Horse's release of one of Osamu Tezuka's first manga, "Lost World".

A few days ago, I picked up Tezuka's "Lost World" from my university library. It was released by Dark Horse in 2003, first published in Japan in 1948 (!!!). Both volumes of the series are collected into one, with a retail of $17.95. The second important thing I noticed about the book (the first thing being Tezuka's name on the spine) is that it was flipped to read left-to-right. This didn't surprise me, however there is a note to readers included before the story begins

In summary, it explains how Tezuka Productions and Dark Horse are against racial discrimination, are "working towards its elimination", and are against revising Tezuka's work. Slightly related is a statement on the opening credit page beside it, explaining that the images are a mirror of the original work in order to "conform to English-language standards". I still don't know how to seriously respond to this "between the lines" discrepancy.

There are many things that I really appreciate about the volume. It includes a long afterword (with footnotes from the translator) written by Tezuka himself! He discusses how he can trace back creating "Lost World" from his junior high days to the challenges he faced during serialization. He makes many other interesting comments as well. He addresses that he knows his work shares the same title as [Sir Arthur] Conan Doyle's novel and shares information about how manga was taken to printing back then (the "drawing plate method" as he calls it, also known as zincography) and how it affected the finished product.

Overall, I take away more from the book than just the story. I enjoy this version of the book because of how it shows part of the past of manga publishing in both America and Japan. I applaud Dark Horse for putting this book into America. Reading it has been a great learning experience. I highly recommend "Lost World" to all manga readers because of the history lessons included.

Jacob takes up the spear of the ol' Grassroots Campaign:

Probably the best way to raise awareness for an older anime series is the old "word of mouth" phenomenon. The internet is good for finding information and (hopefully legal) methods of watching an anime series if you already know what you want to watch or investigate. Otherwise the internet is information overload without any great method of sorting through. Do an internet search of "good anime" and it is a mess. Even anime forum "recommendations" threads are not very helpful because, except in rare cases, no one really KNOWS anyone, and we're just not likely to take someone's suggestion seriously unless it is a title we have prior knowledge of.

Word of mouth, at least in the form of two anime friends interacting, lends an air of authenticity to a recommendation. Just over the weekend I was at a friend's apartment and we were talking anime. Thanks to his recommendation (and several sample episodes) I now really want to watch Yakitate!! Japan, I series I had not heard of before. If I had just read some stuff online about the series I probably wouldn't have even given it a second thought.

(Of course, one could argue that being of 2004 mint Yakitate!! Japan isn't "old" yet, but generally things seem to age quickly in the anime world. If I remember right, R.O.D. the TV is the same age as Yakitate!! Japan, and it certainly feels old--I mean, no one talks about it anymore.)

Ultimately, however, each individual fan has their own reasons for watching anime and making the choices they do about discovering series. Someone who wants to simply keep up with the new simulcast streams so they can discuss them with friends as they air probably won't have the same interest in a classic title that someone who is watching anime for the storylines.

And so it goes.

I may wish to use those murder weapons someday Aaron, do not take that potential joy from me:

One thing that needs to be done to make classic or “old school” Manga more accessible is to get it away from the seemingly portentous high end publishers and/or make them more generally accessible or affordable (I realize with licensing being what is this may just be a pipe dream) through more mainstream publishers. Compare the Dark Horse release of Astro Boy, all simple inexpensive paperbacks with an informative essay by Frederik L. Schodt in the first volume: no real frills but it got it out to a wide audience at a decent price. Whereas the Vertical releases of Black Jack are running about $16.99 and come packaged in a book that could be used as a murder weapon.

We're talking about a series that was serialized in Weekly Shonen Champion not Garo, it was popular entertainment not something for Manga “connoisseurs” that's priced out of the range of newer fans. Another thing would be a culling of the wheat from the chaff; just because Tezuka did some good things doesn't necessarily mean everything he did has to be licensed just because he wrote it.

Another idea is anthologies much like the A Drunken Dream retrospective on Moto Hagio but more affordable, or the Four Shojo Stories anthology Viz put out in 1996. You could put out an anthology of representative stories from well respected but under represented Mangaka or historically significant ones like Suiho Tagawa (of Norakuro fame) or Hideko Mizuno (the Mangaka behind the award winning and pioneering Shojo Manga Fire). Make these decently priced and you'd be surprised how many people would flock to them.

In short make it Manga for the people instead of a lavish omnibus running upwards of almost $30 dollars. Put out well-made if workmanlike smaller volumes at a more economical price. Or you could explain who the influences on the Mangaka behind current popular titles are. For instance Tite Kubo was influenced by Saint Seiya (wither it's a classic or not is debatable but I'll leave that for another time.) Knowing that makes me want to read it to see what inspired him, or that one of the biggest influences on Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto was Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo. Knowing that a new fan's favorite Mangaka may have influences that go farther back would help broaden their horizons and probably draw them into reading those titles.

It's just a process of getting it out their for people to see if they want it or not and in this economy thrifty if well made is the best way to introduce people to the classics of Manga, along with choosing more general titles MW and Ode To Kirihito - they may be great titles but if people don't know about them or feel intimidated by them they're never going to read them. So deflate it a little, lose a little of the perceived pretentiousness. Putting a title like Adolf out again is a great idea, I have a step brother who doesn't even read Manga and he'd probably read it if I got it for him because it's about World War Two. That has a wider appeal than an insane cross dressing bisexual or a Christ like dog man in my opinion.

The only thing I disagree with Patrick here is the classification of Odin as "classic":

If awareness of older anime cartoons is to be raised, they need to be made available easily and cheaply, if not freely. The best way of doing this for any show is to air them on television.

But how many would be interested in old cartoons? If American cartoons are used as a comparison, then consider how many people watch old Hanna Barbara cartoons. Even those who grew up with those cartoons have little interest in watching them again. Even American cartoons from the 90s can be hard to rewatch. Aside from the most popular ones like Scooby Doo, old cartoons rarely get broadcasted. So who's going to watch old Japanese cartoons when they aren't even watching old American ones? Furthermore, not everyone has the patience to read subtitles so it's a lot easier for those only somewhat interested in anime to watch dubbed shows.

If there is going to be any interest in older anime then the copyright owners have to realize that it's not going to be considered of great value and need to make it available as cheaply as possible. But considering there's so much new material that can be had for free online, there just isn't any economic advantage in releasing old works. However, that's not to say there isn't good old anime. One series I've been watching is The Snow Queen, although the fansub group has only been releasing it at about the rate of one episode every three months so it's taken years just to get two-thirds through the series. As such it's hard to recommend it to anyone since they're likely to loose patience waiting for all the episodes.

But there are ways to turn newer anime fans on to older shows. Podcasts such as Anime World Order have made many anime fans aware of such classics such as Crystal Triangle, Harmageddon and Odin. The Anime News Network site is filled with columns and articles that talk about older anime. The only thing missing might be something similar to Amazon's "If you like this you might also like these" recommendations. For instance, Ghost in the Shell fans might also enjoy Appleseed or Viper's Creed.

But for someone to be exposed to a podcast or website first assumes that the person will visit the site or listen to the podcast, and that requires that the person becomes aware of those outlets first. Television is still the best way to reach people since it's so prevalent. But that tends to limit which anime can be shown, especially since only dubbed anime is likely to even be considered. However, once a person takes an interest in anime often their own interest will draw them to other anime, including the older works--provided that they are available.

We've secretly replaced John's manga with Folger's Crystals:

Let's see, how to get newer fans to read older/classic manga titles…

Well the simplest way is to take a older/classic title of your choice, go up to the said “newer fan”, shove it into their face and say, ”Read this, it's good!” Then stare at them to make sure they do read it. Mind you that would make someone think you're really creepy.

Or you could always go with the “continuous reinforcement method”; where you hand the other person which ever older/classic title you want them to read then continuously ask them, “have you read it yet?” every time you see them. Though this method might make the other person think you're annoying.

Then there's the basic method approaching the newer fan while they're reading one of their own titles and say “oh, you like that, why not try this, it's like that but came out before that.” Then hand them said title and see if they enjoy.

And lastly, Bhavya gives a nice hearty "Thanks!" to professional manga wunderkind Shaenon Garrity:

Considering the almost colossal, in some cases, difference in the styles of artwork between even a few years ago and now, many newer anime/manga fans aren't that keen on the 'old' style, and I have to admit, I was one of them, But then, just a week or two ago, I read the Special Guest Edition of Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga, where guest editor Shaenon Garrity wrote about Tamura Yuki's long running 90's manga, Basara.

Now, I don't really know if Basara counts as 'classic', but I guess comparatively, it is 'older', and pretty epic. Normally, seeing the type of artwork, I wouldn't have read this manga. But after reading that column, where Shaenon's described everything form the artwork to the story, I was intrigued and just had to read it, and now I'm hooked.

Getting to the point, I guess that'd be the best way to bring the older, classic manga to the otaku of today - you write reviews about it, in a regular column dedicated to pre-'00s/-'90s manga that today's fans don't know about. It'd be like ANN's new 'If, Then, Or' column. Another way would be for a site like, say, crunchyroll, to stream old animes. Make it a big thing, like a week-long Classic Fest, with works by Ozamu Tezuka and the rest. It may take time, but hopefuly, it'll work.

And now we move on to next week's question, which brings something that's been lacking in my recent Answerfans questions as of late... UNBRIDLED CYNICISM!

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.

Thanks again for sitting down and spending a little bit of your time on my webspace-column! Remember of course to swing by my little email home over at answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com for any questions or answers or semantic rabblerousing! Take it easy, everybody!

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