Hey, Answerman! Not Very Large and Not In Charge
by Brian Hanson, Dec 2nd 2011
Greetings and Happy December, everybody!
So, just so everyone knows, I'm sort of a Legend of Zelda connoisseur. A Zeldasseur. So of course I got the fancy-pants Skyward Sword set with the golden Wii controller, which has heretofore been exempt from any extraneous usage as a self-pleasure device. Though not for lack of trying.
I'm almost finished with the game, and I've been love love loving it so far, because it wonderfully combines the whimsy and simplicity of Wind Waker with the challenge of the older Zelda games, like A Link To The Past. BUT! Without spoiling anything, I've spent the past two hours or so stuck in a big water level - and let's be honest, water levels have ALWAYS sucked in video games, I thought Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis confirmed this - doing one of the most frustrating and irritating collect-a-thons I've seen outside of Banjo Kazooie. Why? Was the rest of the game simply too good that Nintendo's crack team of developers decided it needed to suck a little bit, just to balance things out? It would be like, before the ending of Taxi Driver, Scorcese decided that Travis Bickle needed to do the hambone to a Ray Stevens song for about fifteen minutes. I DON'T GET IT.
Sorry. I've got video games on the brain. As does every good nerd, I think, around the holidays. But let's not forget why we're really here. Aside from Ray Stevens references, which I already dispensed with. Questions!
Right Stuf is having their annual 12 Days of Christmas sale and looking at the products got me thinking... While it's not uncommon to see deep discounts with DVD releases (60-75% off), books (save for huge flops) tend to not dip more than 35-40% off on a good day. Just wondering - is this because the price of physically making a book accounts for so much of the finished product, so they can't "slash" the price as much or is there another reason?
Ah, well - the book publishing industry is a lumbering dinosaur in its death throes, and there's a lot of reasons why you won't see much of a price difference on any given title unless it either hits the Barnes & Noble bargain bin or you pick up a used copy. There's a spider's web of antiquated purchasing agreements and large advances and warehousing costs and printing costs and generally a lot of money that gets divided up a billion ways to Sunday.
The long and short of it is, though - the profit margin on just one copy of a soft-bound graphic novel, be it manga or otherwise, is incredibly small. Once you take out the upfront costs of that one book, from the licensing to the printing to whatever the retailer itself takes off of it, that profit needs to find its way back to the publisher AND the retailer and, God willing, the original artists themselves.
And of course, there's the tricky little problem of the print industry, I dunno, sort of dying at the moment. Hence why most publishers - Viz, et al - tend to be raising their prices instead of dropping them. Really, there's only so many retailers that still sell printed books these days, much less graphic novels. A DVD, even an anime DVD, cuts a much wider swath of the retail realm. Hence why there's such a price variation on them, as opposed to books.
To dumb it down a shade even further, here's a neat little visual cue you can use. Grab a book, any book, off of your shelf, and grab an adjacent DVD or Blu Ray or whathaveyou. On the book, you'll notice the MSRP of the book printed right there on the back cover, and with most recent books, the MSRP is actually printed right next to the ISBN barcode. Try that with the vast majority of DVD's and other packaged media out there - you won't see a price anywhere.
As much as I, as would anyone I think, like for there to be a little more lee-way on the pricing of most manga out there, the sad truth of it is that they're still technically books, and they're forever trapped in the seemingly unchanging machinations of the book publishing and retailing industries.
Here's hoping that changes as manga publishers switch over to digital formats. But... even still, I wouldn't hold my breath. Mo' Money Mo' Problems.
I am a huge fan of the Noitamina block and I routinely show noitamainA shows to my parents, and they like them. My dad loves Eden of the East, and my mom (a piano teacher) LOVES Nodame Cantabile. But next season Noitamina is showing the second half of guilty crown, and black rock shooter. and it seems like it is officially abandoning its roots. Now to be fair I love the animation and music in Guilty Crown, but that plot... The first episode is cliche, but it's a first episode so of course it is going to look like Code Geass meets Utena, maybe if I give it some time... And (Insert long rant) it's a LOT worse then what I thought, and this is getting two seasons. On Noitamina. Is it already for sure that Noitamina as we know it is gone? Is there no chance of more Jellyfish Princesses, Tatami Galaxies, or Un-Go's in the future?
Woah there, talk about jumping to conclusions. I just want to quickly point out two things.
First, Guilty Crown is hardly the first crappy show to air on Noitamina. In fact, I'd argue that Shiki was much worse. And for every great show you just mentioned, there's been quite a few Noitamina titles that've completely slid under the radar. For every Tatami Galaxy, there was also a Genji Monogatari Sennenki.
Which brings me to my second response, which is: I think you're a bit mistaken as to what Noitamina actually is. It is a block of late-night television programming. Initially, it was created to "broaden" the demographic of anime, but that of course proved unpopular and so now Noitamina carries just about everything from live-action manga adaptations to goofy fanservice-and-mecha fests like Guilty Crown. Think of it like, and I know this is sort of a poor analogy, sort of as Fuji TV's version of Adult Swim. It's a block of television programming that used to be primarily cartoons and now has shows from all walks of life, live-action and animated, of varying quality. Sometimes they will air new shows that people will not like. That's how it goes.
So no, I wouldn't say that "Noitamina as we know it is gone" so much as that I'm not really sure "Noitamina as we know it" ever really existed. We were all lucky in that the few truly GREAT shows, like Eden of the East and Nodame Cantabile, tended to be the titles that were heavily marketed and hence were the shows that people over here actually watched. But they also aired Antique Bakery and a live-action version of Moyashimon. And yet, even after all those titles that people either ignored or hated, they still came back with something as unique as Un-Go.
In other words, stop freaking out, dude. It's just a programming block; nothing more than a fancy way to brand and market a group of shows in the hopes that people like us will pay more attention to them. Which I guess is working. The Noitamina titles in the future will succeed or fail on their own merits, notwithstanding the branding that's been given to them by their TV network.
Hey, Brian! Got two questions to follow up on last week's Adult Swim ratings thing. First Question :
I'm wondering why Adult Swim doesn't have the rights to shows like Death Note or Code Geass even though it was popular back then. It's on air for like two or three years, and then the rights expire. However, hasn't Inuyasha been on air since forever? And they are running re-runs every week. I also wonder how long Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood will last since new episodes stopped coming out and how long Durarara!! will last after it wraps up around a month from now. I enjoy both shows and watch them every week! So, to make my question clear, why are shows like Death Note or Code Geass are only kept on air for a couple of years whereas Inuyasha, a fairly long anime, has been on air forever?
Is Boondocks really popular or something? Because, I used to tune in to the last few minutes of Bleach to catch Durarara!! and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The slot for Bleach then was at 9:00 and everything else followed that. But, just recently, I noticed this hour-long slot of Boondocks that wasn't there before. So, in result, everything was pushed back one hour. Again, is Boondocks really that popular? The episodes aren't even new.
The answer to both questions is actually only one word, but I will repeat it three times Beetlejuice-style for added impact: RATINGS RATINGS RATINGS.
Inuyasha is still runnin' strong on Adult Swim some six or seven years since they ran out of episodes is quite simple: PEOPLE STILL WATCH IT. Yes, even at 5:30am or whatever on a Sunday morning, people still watch Inuyasha. Plus, just in case it bears repeating, Inuyasha is a MUCH longer series than either Death Note or Code Geass, which is enticing from a programming perspective because you're less likely to burn out your audience with an abundance of episodes, even reruns, than with something much smaller. The sad truth of the matter is, as I stated last week, you probably won't see too much of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood or Durarara!! in a year or so. The upside is, Adult Swim is pretty good about finding decent series to replace them with. So look forward to that at least.
As for The Boondocks: Yes, yes people watch it. It's getting a fourth season. I wouldn't call the show a complete across-the-board hit, but people watch it. And it's actually a bit more complicated than that - Adult Swim ponies up a significant chunk of that show's budget themselves. They obviously didn't do that for Bleach. So, again, which show are you going to give more air-time to - the one you licensed on the cheap, or the one in which you have a vested financial interest? Common sense, mister.
I'm in no way an Economist or an expert on the North American Anime Industry. However, I've been doing a lot of thinking recently, and I have a couple of ideas on how to get Anime into the average American Home. (As long as those homes have iPhones/Pads in them). The problem I have, is that all of my ideas call for an extreme amount of money and max level Charisma Points. That lead me to a question I thought you might find interesting.
If you had an unlimited supply of money, and maximum sway in any negotiation, what would you do to help the North American Anime Industry?
Me? I would send an army of snakes into every American household that has ever watched 16 And Pregnant or Whitney and I would not remove the snakes (the snakes and I share a telepathic bond, you see) until they watched the copy of Fullmetal Alchemist I graciously loaned to them.
Putting aside the impracticalities of that plan. Realistically speaking? I don't know. I don't know!
Speaking honestly here, nobody has any real clue why certain things catch on and become popular while certain things wane in our pop culture. It ebbs and flows like an ocean of poor taste and misdirection. In the same landscape where Jack and Jill has made 58 million dollars, filmmakers like Paul Thomas Anderson still gets to keep making movies that will never make that much money and cost about as much to create. In a world where a crappy new James Patterson potboiler races up the bestseller charts every six months, writers like George Saunders are still able to make an honest living. And of course everything in between and whatever.
And in all honesty, even with all that theoretical money and influence at my disposal, I'd still be just one dude. Certain genres and mediums don't seem to catch on and stay relevant just because of one high-profile endorsement; I can't think of anybody who ran out and learned Coptic just because of George Clooney. As much as I hate sounding like a pretentious twat, I'm going to say it - it's all about hitting the zeitgeist. If something hits at the right place at the right time, it's a sure-fire thing. And some people are great at predicting that; Carl Macek was a visionary in that sense, in that he knew there was an audience that was looking for stuff like Akira and Robotech, but they didn't know what it was yet, and he was the only guy who could give it to them.
Hey, actually, you know what? I do know what I would do to "help the American Anime Industry." With all that money and influence and dubiously-appointed power.
I would use that money and power, and I would create a truly great anime show. Maybe even two!
Because as much people would like to think that we all love anime because we're lobotomized manchildren, we actually love these shows because a good portion of them are legitimately good. Content is key, as they say. Who cares about marketing and advertising and all that nonsense. Let's just make good art, and celebrate it when we see it.
Like with the Noitamina question above: it sucks that we sometimes have to settle for the Guilty Crowns of the world, but every so often we get The Tatami Galaxy. And that's not bad at all. And so long as the content is there, the audience will find it. Maybe not immediately, but it'll get there.
Moving along now to Hey, Answerfans!
Or at least, we would be, if it weren't Thanksgiving last week and I had the time to think of a decent and interesting question. Alas!
However, being as it is the twelfth and final month of the year, I thought it would be unique to get some closing thoughts on 2011 over the coming weeks, starting with this question here:
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.
Hope to see some really unique responses to your favorite manga of the year, so of course don't forget to write those down and send 'em to me over at answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! Oh, and questions too. Don't forget to send me those as well. Adios!
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