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Hey, Answerman!
In the Name of the Moon

by Brian Hanson,

The week is almost up, so you know what that means! Even so, I'm going to explain it anyway: Time for me to open up the Pandora's Box that is my Answerman inbox and answer-ize some question-ification-isms. So let's waste not, want not and get to the nitty-gritty:

Dear Answerman, I have been told a bazillion times that I have the perfect voice for anime cartoons. Do you have any suggestions as to how I may pursue this inquest? Your guidance is greatly appreciated!

Wait, you have the perfect voice for anime OR cartoons? Make up your mind!

So, you've been "told" that you have a voice that is suitable to be heard coming out of the mouths of animated characters. Okay, sure. That's one thing. But, I'm going to reiterate something I've answered before: Every once in a while I'll get mail from frustrated readers asking why in the world they keep hearing the same voices in every show. Every series, it seems, you'll hear the dulcet tones of a Steve Blum or a Johnny Yong Bosch or a Vic Mignogna. That is because these are versatile actors who have practiced their craft over decades and have a healthy working relationship with the directors and producers in charge of casting these things. Ditto for US cartoons as well: you hear a lot of Billy West and John DiMaggio in every cartoon series because again, these guys are the best in the business, and they've fostered relationships with the creative-types in charge of hiring voice talent over the years of honing their craft.

The key to voice acting lies in the second word: acting. Everybody knows that Johnny Yong Bosch was the Green Ranger, Vic Mignogna used to be a drama teacher, while Billy West had a long career doing radio before getting into animation, and John DiMaggio performed comedy. Basically, they all had a wide variety of talents and skills before they were able to utilize that "perfect for cartoons" voice of theirs.

As far as handling this inquest of yours, the key is to simply... find a way to "hone" that craft, as I mentioned earlier. Any community college, for example, with a drama department will usually have a class on making proper use of your voice. And then, just get out there and start workin'. Do a play, audition for local roles in student films or commercials or whatever, and be prepared to spend a lot of time on your feet, working hard for the money, so hard for the money.

Basically what I'm saying is that even though your friends have told you that your voice is suitably "cartoony," it's far, FAR from easy to get a nice voice acting gig. It's not the sort of thing where you can just host an mp3 of your voice reading some lines and forward it to a casting director who'll hire you on the spot. If it were that easy, we wouldn't be hearing the same voices, day in day out, in every anime and cartoon series under the sun. You gotta put the work in, do the legwork as it were, and get to the same level of professionalism and respectability as the seasoned pros who get all the roles. And that's hard to do.

I mean, granted, you could be gifted with such a naturally talented voice that is perfectly attuned to the demands of animation, but! You're not gonna get hired to voice a recurring character on Bleach, let's say, until it's evident that you've put in the time to take the "acting" part of voice acting seriously.

Hey Answerman, just wanted to first tell you that I love your articles and appreciate that you take the time to answer questions that the fans have. Now on with my first question which has been bothering me for a while, and after reading the most recent article on Warner Brother's attempt to create a "Death Note" Movie this question needs to be answered. Why is it that when an anime gets a US movie remake it usually fails? I can't say this is from a personal standpoint because I have never watched any of those movies due to the anime fans that say the movies are terrible (though I am curious to watch the "Astro Boy" movie due to the history in the making of the movie). My standpoint is on the reviews given by people who like and don't like anime and that when Japan makes a live action movie it turns out pretty good (like "Blood+" and the original "Death Note" live action films).

Second question, because the "Sailor Moon" manga has been doing very well sales wise in the US after being brought back does that leave any more hope for the anime to be rereleased? I mean I am shocked it hasn't been brought back yet, it's popular (you can go to any con and find at least 1 person dressed up as someone from that series) and there has been a high demand for its return.

Oh, boy! Hollywood-talk!

First off, two assumptions I have to correct: The live-action Blood: The Last Vampire movie was a co-production between French, British, and Hong Kong film companies. No Japanese-ness in there at all. And second, those Japanese live-action Death Note movies are NOT "good." At least by my standards. Standards that require a certain aptitude as far as "plotting" and "acting." (Though I haven't seen the new L movie. After the first two I decided to cut my losses.)

And also, I will stand by and say that, for the record, I didn't think the Hollywood versions of either Astro Boy or, dare I mention it, Speed Racer were all that bad. Astro Boy was a perfectly acceptable, cute, and charming CG cartoon that's leagues better than something like, I dunno, Happy Feet or Bee Movie. And Speed Racer... man. I love that movie. I un-ironically love that movie. It's a neon-barf acid trip made with complete and thorough disregard for the tastes and expectations of any audience expecting a family film or a Hollywood blockbuster or both. I can almost forgive the Wachowski's for the Matrix sequels for that movie.

But of course both of those movies were dismal failures; Astro Boy in particular killed its entire animation studio, which was trying their damnedest to make films out of Gatchaman and Gigantor. See, here's the thing about movies, about what turns into a hit and what doesn't: nobody really knows anything. There's no specific rubric out there that's able to measure why something like Disney's Prince of Persia or Cowboys & Aliens fails to make a mint in the same universe where three terrible Transformers movies makes everyone, except our culture and decency, richer. Oh, sure, there are the usual excuses about the lack of "marketing" and such - except that both Astro Boy and Speed Racer posters, trailers, and merchandise was everywhere leading up to the release of those films. And then there's the usual hemming and hawing about how audiences aren't "familiar" enough with the properties to make them successful - but that still doesn't explain Transformers, which was a crappy 80's cartoon show and toy line that was popular only with nostalgia nerds and toy geeks. Or, hey, Alvin & The Chipmunks. What child, in 2007, knew or cared about Alvin & The Chipmunks? Movie proceeds to make hundreds of millions of dollars, now we have two other terrible movies, and so forth.

It's hardly an exact science. In fact, it's not a science at all. The collective whims and wonders of the modern moviegoing audience are as perplexing and elusive to all of us as it is to the movie executives who write the checks. The problem comes from those same executives who, for example, notice a pattern and assume there's a science behind it. "Welp, Treasure Planet was a huge expensive bomb, that must mean that audiences HATE 2D animated film! Nevermind the fact that the movie was an unwatchable abortion!" Or, "quick, Transformers is making money - we need to come up with movies based off of Ouija boards and the Rubik's Cube!!!" "Avatar was a huge hit - it must just be because of the 3D! We need to make ALL OF OUR MOVIES 3D FOREVER" and... you get the idea.

Movie audiences are fickle, untamed beasts, basically. The reason that Hollywood movies based off of anime haven't had any real success is just another mystifying aspect of the film business.

Now, on to Sailor Moon! And SPEAKING of money...

Look, the folks who are hanging on to the license for the Sailor Moon anime - that would be Toei, mostly - they're not stupid. They know they're holding a cash cow in their hands. A guaranteed best-seller once the DVDs hit the market. In a way, that's precisely the problem; in order for those DVDs (or Blu Rays, whichever) to be legally distributed on our shores, they all want to make sure they get a nice slice of the profits. Dumbing it down even further, it's a tangled, messy legal nightmare. The brave and foolish US company who could circumnavigate those troubled litigious waters would be richer than the Kings of Europe, but those waters be treacherous, laced with death and danger at every turn, the likes of which ye hath never seen! Arr.

But, like all good things, patience is a virtue. The manga's re-release is a bona-fide success story, so if anything I think it's helped speed up the negotiations a bit. It'll come out when it comes out; everyone just needs to get all of their convoluted, expensive contracts signed is all.

I'm a huge fan of Gunbuster, and even moreso of included extras within games/movies/shows like commercials, concept art, and commentary. So I wanted to inquire how likely it would be for the new Blu-Ray Gunbuster box to be released in America, as there are many extras that are slated to come with that have never been seen before. I do know that Bandai Visual, who released the DVD Gunbuster in 2007, dissolved a year later in 2008, but they've since been absorbed by Bandai Entertainment, so would they have the rights to Gunbuster, versus the license being up for grabs? In addition, the Blu-Ray box doesn't even come out in Japan until February 2012, so if it did get licensed, how long would it take before the window would be open for a localization company to announce licensing it? Does the fact that Gunbuster was produced by studio Gainax change the likelihood of localization, given that Gainax has a notable American fanbase? I'm sorry to give you more questions than re-releases of Neon Genesis Evangelion, but I'd love to know your stance on these questions.

Here's what I'm going to say about this new, shiny Gunbuster box you're talking about: better fork over the 200 bucks to import it, m'fraid.

Listen, yes: Gainax's name would, under normal circumstance, help the cause of licensing a title. Yes, Bandai Entertainment has the rights to any of Bandai Visual's Japanese releases, so it's theirs if they want it. The window of time wouldn't really be that far off from its early 2012 release date, if they wanted to localize it. But! They won't.

Because... it's old. It's old, it's from 1988, and to today's mass-market anime fans, that is ancient history. If it were Sailor Moon or Dragon Ball, that obviously wouldn't matter; but it's not. And all those bonus features? The commentaries, commercials, and all that stuff? That's just extra, unnecessary work, from a localization standpoint. There's a reason most of those "bonus" features tend to be ignored when a title is localized, and it's because there's an assumption, perhaps an incorrect one, that the fans don't necessarily miss them, so long as they can simply have the series on DVD or Blu Ray with subtitles.

The one silver lining, if there is any, is that luckily Japan and the US share the same region codes for Blu Ray, so you won't have to worry about the discs not working properly should you decide to plunk down your hard-earned dollars for an import copy. And honestly, I'm going to have to say that that's probably the only way to go on this one if you want your hi-def Gunbuster fix. Because even if, if by some miracle that Bandai decides to localize this set, I wouldn't expect it to be any cheaper. The audience for so-called "classic" anime is a small one, outside of the bigger names that I mentioned before, and the only way to make a Blu Ray set of Gunbuster profitable would be to keep it expensive.

So... that's pretty much it. Gunbuster is old. Old titles don't sell anymore. Sorry to say, but you gotta import.

Rounding out our Answerman entry for the week, we descend upon Hey, Answerfans! Last week, I was hypothetically magnanimous in giving you a "Magical Axe" with which to kill That Which Must Be Killed:

We begin with Elspeth, for whom selfishness is as good a reason as any for this question, methinks:

Hope it's okay that this answer is so short, but the two series I so very wish to end are Arisa and Black Bird.

Arisa has been dragging on for too long. It seemed promising at first, but I can't help but be annoyed at so many of its plot twists and how confusing it is now. I just want to see the conclusion. I could hardly care for the (many) forgettable characters.

I'd also like to end Black Bird because I dislike it a lot. My simple, selfish reason is that it's (somehow) outselling another shoujo series about yokai i'm very fond of (and I just hate the story in general). I'm guessing that it's because of the romance and hot dude or something, but I read the first few chapters and discovered that I really can't stand shoujo featuring females as the main character. Even if you try to like something, if the main character pisses you off it's hopeless. I also hated how some of the covers looked somewhat suggestive and how weak the girl looks on them. I'd hate if the receipt for what Barnes and Noble recommends ever had "Black Bird" printed on it to me...

If you love something, Robert, let it go:

As a show goes on, my enthusiasm for it wanes and diminishes the longer it goes on. The longest shows I have ever watched were running when I was 8-12 when apparently I had a much larger attention span than I do now. The two shows that I watched most closely as a kid were Dragonball/Dragonball Z/Dragonball GT (when combined were more than 500 episodes), and Rurouni Kenshin (a more modest 95 episodes). As I grew older, I became disenchanted by the shows that were being played on Adult Swim and Cartoon Network. The big four at the time were Inuyasha, One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach, none of which I was very interested in, and none of them had reasonable episode counts at the time (never mind what they are now). Even further, they weren't even non sequential, so I wasn't able to just pick a show up and roll with it because I needed to know what happened before. It wasn't until late into my sophomore year of high school that my friend had invited me over to watch the entire Black Cat series that I had become interested in anime again.

Short shows are to the point, focused, and carry such a high quality that I don't think I can ever sit down and watch those marathons ever again. So if I ever had the ax, the big three would be the first to go.

Oh man, T.J. is slaughtering a sacred cow here:

The series I would take my Magical Axe to is the Evangelion manga. It's not that I want it ended, but I want Sadamoto to finally FINISH it. I understand that manga is not his focus - that it's more of a side project for him - but please, it has been 16 YEARS! That pre-dates Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, InuYasha, or pretty much any of those super long running series, yet Evangelion's 13th volume still isn't finished. It finally looks like it's nearing completion, but I won't hold my breath that Sadamoto won't take another multi-year hiatus before it's done.

Ava's feast of tasteless trash has given her taste indigestion:

I think I would have to take my magical axe straight to Ai Ore. Forgive me if this sounds snobbish but just because something it's a popcorn like title for women doesn't mean the writing can be lazy. The use of common troupes and themes has always been the case with shojo and when done well can really show off the talent behind the pen; however, the ability to understand why those things work is also needed.

To pull an example from the book that wouldn't spoil anything: It is interesting to explore the head strong "prince" of the all-girls school falling in love with the beautiful and delicate "princess" of the all-boys school, but to then use the troupes of the dominating male that comes to the helpless female rescue and then a few pages later is pushing her against something in a sexual way completely ruins any strong female character you were trying to create. Another common place event in girls comics is the use of rape to move the plot along a bit and to heighten the emotions of the readers. I have always been a bit squeamish with this casual use a serious subject matter but if well written it can make for a very tense scene where the reader learns about the characters true nature. Ai Ore has not one but three rape scenes back to back (the last one has a bit of change up but it's literally 14 pages apart.) THREE!!! To add the biggest insult of all the heroine of our story who has been head strong as best she can simply flops over and waits for her tiny "princess" love interest to burst in and save the day.

The real kick in the gut to me is the fact that this book is popular! [sigh]

To bracket my email, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a bit of girlish, fan oriented candy but there is no reason to feast on tasteless trash.

AND NOW THE BLEACH HATE STARTS, beginning with Scott here:

It hurts me to say this but after years of BS I have to let it go...Bleach. For years, I've loved the insane action scenes, the transformations, and occasionally hilarious encounters. But now that the Fullbringers arc has started on the anime, I'm done. I stuck with this franchise for over 400 chapters and 340 episodes. All the fillers, those stupid mod souls, just wishing characters like Ririn, Dalk, and Kageroza would just die already and stop wasting my time. I thank Tite Kubo for all the fun, but it really should have ended after Aizen was defeated. If nothing else in this series ever gets resolved, at least let it end quietly. The worst part is that I know it won't happen anytime soon. I would also mention Naruto but I like living, so I think I'm done with my rant. Peace.

And now, HotSquirrl should do something about all the answer screaming:

You sir, have finally asked a question that I am not only interested in responding to, but have already got the answer screaming in my head, begging for release, and it will not leave me until I've sent it your way. Instead of letting it slip and become forgotten until the next time your column comes around as usual, I must respond. You ask for what I believe should get the axe? I'll tell you!

Bleach has become a monstrosity. Like the hollows it's protagonist Ichigo must face, it has warped into something grotesque by trying to cling to this world while it's soul chain is slowly being eaten away day by day until it will one day break. Okay, poor series based analogy out of the way. I feel that things really took a nosedive during the Hueco Mundo arc, and was only barely hanging in to see how the whole Aizen conflct ends. Those who fear spoilers, turn away now.

SPOILERS BEGIN HERE***After a final desperate attack that will make his powers go away completely, Ichigo defeats Aizen. Aizen is then locked away like the criminal he is (very tightly I might add), and everyone goes back to their respective homes. It feels like a decent place to stop. But it doesn't. It goes on. How, I don't know, for that was the point I threw my hands up in the air and gave up on it. That was a decent enough place to end, or so I thought. Our big villain was defeated, our hero triumphant, and without his powers, he no longer had need to deal with the spiritual realm. But no, it had to continue.***SPOILERS END HERE

It also doesn't help that a pattern was becoming very apparent. Plot grows stale. Throw in a bunch of new characters to push plot along. Most of those characters just end up serving no real purpose in the grand scheme of things (since all they do is fight other characters introduced earlier to push the plot along). It wouldn't be so bad if it were just a few each time, but we see DOZENS of new characters each time this happens, and there's no time to properly introduce them. Eventually you'll have too many characters to even keep track of, even if you kill a good number of them off at certain points in the plot. They'll all become indistinguishable.

My biggest problem (which may or may not be a matter of changing taste), is that as the series went on and on, I slowly forgot why I liked it to begin with. And after looking back, I just couldn't find it anymore. Had it become so convoluted that even the simpler beginning could no longer catch my interest for my knowledge of later events? Or had it just simply lost my interest altogether over time as it dragged on?

Anyway, I feel I myself am beginning to drag on, so I think I'll conclude by finding an axe, a grindstone to sharpen it with, and an effigy made up of the first part of the series I had bought to actually...oh wait, I gave it to my brother. $%@! Oh well, Naruto has just about gotten to that same point with me...

I had no idea that Sazae-san could elicit such ire, but here is John to prove me wrong:

Would that I could will an anime to cease existing, it would most definitely be the Shōwa Family Circus: Sazae-san.

The thing is, Sazae-san was a fairly accomplished newspaper comic; a comic that took risks and even advanced a controversial leftist stance on issues of the day until its creator retired with the strip in 1974. Yet the anime lives on, perpetuating a message expired. It shambles forward irrelevant to the point of decay, like a horror sub-genre that just won't die. What is more, Sazae-san has spawned a live-action programme from Fuji Television. In the circles we run in, sometimes the topic of the live-action Sailor Moon enters conversation; to that atom bomb, live-action Sazae-san is a SCUD missile jam-packed with enough smallpox and bubonic plague to wipe out humanity several times over.

We must kill it, Brian. We must kill it with fire.

And lastly, I gotta give it to Helen, for throwing my negative energy back at me, Jeet Kun Do-style:

I thought for a long time about the Answerfans question this week. Sure, there are a lot of animes and mangas I dislike. I got bored with Natsume pretty quickly and found series like Girls Bravo to just be plain obnoxious. Despite this, I wouldn't want to see a single series not be released. Just because I dislike it, doesn't mean everyone else hates it too. I am a huge supporter of the growing anime community in America. It makes me so happy to walk in to a Best Buy or Walmart and see anime for sale, even if I am not familiar with the series. I want anime and manga to get bigger and bigger. I want more people to be inspired and turn in to hard-core fans like myself. So it's a shame if a series another person is interested in is given the axe and they lose interest in anime entirely.

This is not to say I won't voice my opinion! I still send emails to Funimation and Viz letting them know what I think of their products and which series I want them to license. All I can hope for is the continuing success of anime and manga in the U.S!

And on that upbeat note, that's a perfect segue to introduce my timely topic for NEXT WEEK'S QUESTION!

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.

And there we go, everybody! Remember to take a second out of your busy week to drop me a question or a response or two over at answerman((at))animenewsnetwork.com! Have fun and be save, everyone!

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