• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

Hey, Answerman!
Requiem For a Mangastream

by Brian Hanson,

Good evening, all you beautiful men and women! And children, possibly! Teenagers, baby-boomers, et cetera! Welcome to another one of these weekly events known as Hey, Answerman!, where I am honor-bound to answer a small smattering of the questions that are lobbed my way every week.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I got into a discussion about the popularity of American cartoons in Japan, and made a snarky comment about how sure I was that there were Japanese fans lamenting the dub of American cartoons. Well, an intrepid reader known as Mythee took it upon his or her-self to do a little research into the subject, and what you'll find is pretty interesting, I think:

Hello! I read your article and curiosity got the better of me, so I went to the Wikipedia for "South Park" and "Dubbing (film)", went to their Japanese pages, and did a search copy/pasting the Japanese versions, "サウスパーク" and "吹き替え".

Got this on a Japanese site, http://himado.in/67618. Then I put the resulting discussions into Google translator. Despite the poor Google translation, I think it's pretty obvious that they are complaining about the Japanese dub. WISH GRANTED, ANSWERMAN.

"(Tues.) 2011/10/4 23:24:14 ID:: Anonymous 2. OStjHbdT6c
Or unusual voice. I was better before.
(Tues.) 2011/10/4 23:32:24 ID:: Anonymous 3. SJKComM4uE
Wow ... this is not particularly Cartman or shock too ...
(Tues.) 2011/10/4 23:43:11 ID:: Anonymous 4. Ph6GoWoBIM
NHK dumping only if voice
(Tues.) 2011/10/4 23:54:22 ID:: Anonymous 5. DUiDDujvKI
If you no doubt have been through this cast was from the beginning
2011/10/5 (Wed) 4:20:54 ID:: Anonymous 6. SigwanxVSE
Sakaguchi role does not match; Once I begin to protest www broadcast on this
2011/10/5 (Wed) 11:15:57 ID:: Anonymous 7. ​​TdMKt2n8cA
I normally white broadcast with subtitles
2011/10/5 (Wed) 15:47:21 ID:: Anonymous 8. Vcw9G4nybQ
Well Ne broadcast in the broadcast fox bs 238 if this dubbing. MTVjapan policy
2011/10/5 (Wed) 19:6:1 ID:: Anonymous 9. LQFwBfvn8Q
I think of them get used to level
KDVB/w3/mw: 15:27:30 ID (Thurs) 2011/10/6: Anonymous 10.
Wow cart greatness of man is understood · Lirico version.
UNRTw.ioac: 23:3:52 ID (Thurs) 2011/10/20: Anonymous 11.
It has been dubbed into Japanese feel no previous teacher or a worsening of Garrison I was not really God"

Thanks, Mythee! Also, Google translations never cease to be entertaining. "I normally white broadcast with subtitles." Tee hee.

So! Now on to this week's questions:

Hey Answerman,

Recently Viz demanded that the scanlation group Mangastream must end their work on all Viz licensed manga. Now I totally get this and understand that really it was only a matter of time until this happened and I guess that this is happening now to get more people to subscribe to Shonen Jump Alpha. However, after looking at Alpha I see two main problems. It does not offer all the titles in Shonen Jump and is only available in the US and Canada.

This makes me wonder about Katekyo Hitman Reborn. It is not in Alpha and Viz stopped releasing the manga after the 17th volume, but Viz still licenses it so no one else can get it to the English speaking audience. Does this mean that the only way I can read Reborn is to learn Japanese and import the newest volumes? And what about people who live in places other than the US (including me in the UK)? Does that mean I have to wait months for the English volumes to be released physically? I understand that this is new and I think it's a step in the right direction but Viz seems to be making a total mess of the whole thing so far and I may be jumping the gun a little, but sites like Hulu still aren't available outside the US and Crunchyroll only offers a reduced selection and they've been around for ages. Does this mean Viz will do the same thing and only release manga in the US?

I was wondering what your take on the whole thing is. Will it improve, will it be released in places other than the US, and what will happen if the whole thing flops and they continue to only offer its current selection? Does that mean the only way to read Shonen Jump manga other than those in Alpha will be to wait months for the physical release in English?

I had a feeling this question would pop up. Before I get into the nitty-gritty of SJ Alpha, I just wanna say a few things that I've been thinking about in regards to this little fandom of ours.

We've inadvertently created this weird subculture where a pretty large majority of anime and manga fans can still call themselves "fans" without ever dropping off a single dime to any of the original creators of the work they purport to admire.

What I mean is: You can watch all the anime you can, thanks to sites that stream fansubs. You can read all the manga you can, thanks to places like Mangastream and the like. All the revenue from those sites goes directly to them. And these are big websites, with hundreds of thousands of dedicated and active users. And then, you can go to a convention, cosplay, buy fanart and fan-made T-shirts, and be the biggest anime fan and Otaku in the world. But of course, none of that money ever goes back to supporting the artists and the publishers who made any of this stuff in the first place.

Essentially, our little niche fandom has done a great job of supporting itself, but a terrible job of supporting anything resembling an actual industry. Mind you, I'm not laying any blame here - well, not entirely - but I just find it incredibly weird that we've built up this immeasurably immense groundswell of passion and support for all this stuff, but we've essentially produced our own products and services to satisfy the fandom. Cosplay is a big deal, obviously, but outside of perhaps a couple of Naruto headbands, there's a pretty big dearth of official merchandise to utilize that market. Rather than waiting for something like Shonen Jump Alpha or JManga to come around, fans decided to take it upon themselves to build it unofficially. It's both a testament for our dedication to our fellow fans and our unintentional disregard for the original artists.

And honestly, I've never really agreed with the argument that there's a large group of fans who just "will never buy anything anyway." Because a pretty solid percentage of those fans whose only exposure to anime is through fansubs and scanlations will gleefully spend the money to go to conventions, make costumes, and so forth. And that's not cheap. It costs a pretty penny to rent a hotel room in Baltimore, or to purchase enough plastic and PVC pipe to construct your own sword from Bleach. There's definitely a disconnect here at a fundamental level between our collective enthusiasm for anime and manga, and the rather grim financial reality about properly compensating the artists themselves and the business that allows them to create.

So, what's the answer? Hell if I know. Hell if anybody knows. Speaking specifically about Shonen Jump Alpha for a bit: I know that SJ Alpha has quite a ways to go before it's as robust of a service as it needs to be. I hate to say it, but all the folks who've been reared on Mangastream and others of its ilk have gotten a little bit... spoiled. The actual reality is that there are some rules, and there are some regulations that need to be followed. If Akira Amano wanted Reborn! to be available in English everywhere for free, s/he would've self-published it online somewhere. But s/he didn't; s/he sold it to Shueisha so it could be published in Shonen Jump in Japan, so that s/he could be paid handsomely for his/her art. In turn, Shueisha gets to decide how and where his/her manga is presented. Not Mangastream, not Mangafox, not Bittorrent. And, unfortunately, not Shonen Jump Alpha at this point.

I think the important thing to note, by the way, is that Shonen Jump Alpha isn't trying to be JManga, or Mangastream, or anything like that. SJ Alpha is trying to be, essentially, a digital version of the magazine. And Shonen Jump magazine, here in the US, obviously did not have the sheer page-count to include EVERYTHING in Viz's Shonen Jump canon. I'm pretty sure Reborn! wasn't being regularly published in Shonen Jump before they switched to digital delivery. SJ Alpha isn't being billed or marketed as a big, brassy conflagration of your ALL your favorite Shonen Jump manga, so I'm not exactly sure where all the outrage is coming from, what with all the people shouting GRR THEY'RE NOT DISPLAYING MY FAVORITE MANGA, THIS IS AN OUTRAGE.

Now, obviously, even then, SJ Alpha is in need of some work. And Viz has been pretty open about that, I think; they've been replying to Tweets and emails from all walks of fandom life, fielding requests and questions like true PR champs. They know it's not perfect, that it's a big initiative that will morph and inevitably grow and get better over time, as these things always do. But obviously, the elephant in the room here is... the region issue.

And that, sadly, isn't going to go away anytime soon. It's far too complicated, messy, and tumultuous to be dealt with in a satisfactory way anytime soon. Especially not with things like SOPA and ACTA looming precariously over the troubled waters of international copyright. Pre-digital delivery, none of this international-rights stuff was even much of an issue, obviously - if you've only got the publishing rights for North America or Europe, you're obviously going to only be shipping your physical copies to those specific areas, and if anyone from the OTHER REGION felt left out and enraged, they could either stew in anger or import them. Since everything is online right away, legitimately or illegitimately, I can completely understand the frustration there. It's right there, and I could get to it, if it weren't for my confounded IP address!!! But, sucks though it does, licensing and publishing - digital or no - is still stuck in the physical world. Japanese manga publishers aren't too keen on the idea of granting global licenses, for whatever reason.

And until that changes, I personally think it's unfair to blame Viz for this, or to say that they've "made a mess" of anything. Like you said, Hulu still hasn't found a way to make their service work robustly across the pond, and not only have they been around for years, but they have big studio money behind them. Clearly, this isn't just something Viz has to deal with; it's a universal issue, because content delivery is still tied to physical products. That's where most of the revenue for these companies comes from, and until the day that changes, that's the way it's going to be. Until the very instant that Shueisha can sense that it'll make more money from digital distribution across the globe, instead of shipping physical books to specific parts of the English-speaking world, region locks and all those things we hate are going to stay the way they are.

So, after all that angry old-man talk! If you truly think that Shonen Jump Alpha is a step in the right direction, but that it could use some work, let the nice people at Viz know. Tweet them, email them, message them on Facebook, and so forth. Don't be an asshole and try to tear them apart because they took away your precious free manga from a website that gives nothing back to any of the original artists who make this stuff for a living. Can't we all just be rational people? People who understand that, fundamentally, we're not supposed to get everything we want in life, for free, whenever we want it? That there are industries and regulations in place, however flawed they might be, that exist to compensate people for their work? And that there are ways to enact change in these industries through honest dialog, instead of angry trolling? C'mon, people.

Alright, that's enough preaching to the choir. I could go off about this until my dying breath. Let's get to the other questions.

Hey Answerman, considering the rather big budgets for IGs well-known films, Ghost in the Shell and its sequel Innocence, I've been wondering how exactly Production IG managed to stay afloat given that both those movies bombed in Japan?

Well first of all, I think you need to reconfigure what you think of as a "rather big budget." Here's a pretty interesting scale: both Wings of Honneamise and Akira were made for about 8 million US dollars. And that was in the late 80's. Trumping both of those was Tokyo Movie Shinsha's ill-fated Japanese/American co-production of Little Nemo, which had a budget somewhere in the range of 30 million dollars, and was completed around the same time. And of course, all three of those films were domestic flops upon release; obviously Akira did well overseas, coinciding nicely with the rise of anime's VHS renaissance, and if you've listened to the recent ANNCast with Carl Horn you know that Honneamise eventually limped along to profitability in the mid-90's. Little Nemo, designed ostensibly to be a global hit, died on the vine. Either way, they were expensive propositions.

Ghost in the Shell, in 1996, was budgeted at around 10 million US dollars. For an animated film in 1996, that was still pretty high, but consider that Toy Story was produced for around 30 million and Disney's Pocahontas was produced for around 55 million. The collective budgets of animated films was starting to rise significantly, and the fact that something like Ghost in the Shell was able to look as good as it did for a mere fraction of a Hollywood film speaks to Mamoru Oshii's budget-conscious but incredibly effective filmmaking. Not to mention the fact that Ghost in the Shell was an international co-production; the film was conceived, pitched, and produced with an eye for a global market. The movie was co-financed by Manga UK (hence why the original dub has that U2 song over the end credits) and was distributed simultaneously in Japan, Europe, and North America. While it took a while for films like Akira and Wings of Honneamise to recoup their losses, when something like 10 million dollars is neatly split across several continents, it's a lot easier to get everyone their money back. And then, of course, to make a nice, tidy profit afterwards. To say nothing of the fact that Ghost in the Shell was a pretty phenomenal success on video.

And Innocence was produced in much the same way. Innocence had double the budget of the first film, but consider this; budgets for animated films had exploded by the time the film was released in 2004. In fact, here's a little compendium of animated features released in America that year and their budgets: Home on the Range, 110 million. Shrek 2, 150 million. Shark Tale, 75 million. The Incredibles, 92 million. The Polar Express, a whopping 170 million dollars. Yeesh.

Considering that, Innocence was a very modestly-budgeted film. I mean, having watched the film not too long ago, it's a pretty breathtaking bit of visual artistry, nevermind the Bartlett's Book of Quotations plot. It's true that the film only made back about half of its 20 million dollar budget theatrically, but hey, that's where DVDs and Blu Rays pick up the slack. It's pretty easy to greenlight a 20 million dollar budget for something like Innocence, because the sheer volume of VHS tapes and DVDs that its predecessor sold were more than enough to catch the eye of eager investors. Hell, Innocence was one of only two anime films to be distributed by Dreamworks. It obviously wasn't a huge hit in Japan, but it was never meant to be, so I don't see the problem there at all.

I mean, feature-length animation isn't supposed to be cheap. Disney's original Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs was written off at the time as "Disney's Folly" in all the trade papers - and at a budget of roughly 1 million dollars, it was the most expensive film ever made. Animated or not. When it was released, it became the most profitable film ever made. Adjusted for inflation, the film has made over 850 million dollars worldwide. Not bad for a "folly."

But at the end of the day, budgets are just numbers, really. As nerds, of course, there's a temptation to focus a bit too heavily on them, as though a film's quality or lack thereof can be quantified by the amount of money it took to make them. And that's nonsense. Spirited Away was produced for about 25 million dollars and was a global sensation and made over 200 million dollars; meanwhile, independent animator Bill Plympton has been making feature-length animated films, all by himself, for less than a million dollars every other year since the 1990's, and he's still hard at work on the next one. So long as the movie's good, who cares what it costs? Who cares how much it made? And so long as the producers are keenly aware of their audience - and in the case of both Ghost in the Shell, Production I.G knew where the audience was globally - the budget doesn't really matter. As much of a dork as I am for the film business, in all honesty, it's the "business" part of it that entertains me the least.

Hey Answerman!

What in the world ever happened to Funimation's co-productions for Dragon Age and other Bioware properties? Did that fall apart after the Navarre split?

Good question. For that, I'm going to turn this question over to Lance Heiskell, Strategy Director over at Funimation:

I have no idea (available May 29th) what you are talking (on DVD and Blu-ray) about. We should definitely give more information on this. Perhaps we should build a new site and post updates with character sketches, storyboards and some clips – that would be helpful (www.dragonagemovie.com) From what I've heard, nothing fell apart. (Pre order: http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Age-Seeker-John-Swasey/dp/B006JTN5VM/) Bioware has other properties? (Mass Effect movie too) They make other vidja gamez?

In case you were wondering, Lance is sort of uncompromising in his snark. Thanks buddy! And you're welcome for the free plug!

Finally! It's that time where I shut my big damn yap and transfer the balance of conversational power over to you nice folks. The readers. Now, I know Valentine's Day was a couple of days ago, but I feel like the spirit still lingers. Or something! Anyway, last week, in the throes of romantic passion, I posed this question to all of you:

As we begin, Jean-Karlo goes with a classic of the genre, as it were, and ends with a "Grave" warning! Thank you, I'll be here all week:

I'm not much one for the whole "Valentine's" thing, but if I had to choose a manga or anime that was perfect for a Valentine's date, I'd go for the classics and say "Oh! My Goddess", particularly the OVAs from the '90s. The magical-girlfriend genre gets a lot of hate for all of the crap shows that it's brought about (names need not be mentioned), but when it's done well, it works. "OMG" has the advantage of being quite well-done in this regard: the plot is played mostly for laughs (it's like a Japanese I Dream of Jeannie, for Pete's sake), and the series is about as wholesome as a glass of warm milk. It does have a major flaw in that Belldandy herself just throws herself into the relationship a little too eagerly, but hey, both she and Keiichi are willing to fight off all of Heaven for each other. That's just adorable. Seeing Belldandy pop out of a mirror someplace and spook Keiichi is worth all kinds of snuggles.

I'd also like to give Aoi Yori Aoshi some attention (the manga, not the anime--although, it's kinda hard to snuggle with a book in your hands). Nevermind the interruptions from Boobie Lady 1 and Boobie Lady from America, the moments where Aoi and Kaworu manage to sit down and hold hands are just unbearably sweet. The ending is a real kicker, too.

A side note, while I have your attention: when it comes to anime-themed dates, don't be like one of my friends and watch Grave of the Fireflies with your new boy/girlfriend. The friend in question made the mistake of thinking it was like all of those other Ghibli movies. I have it on good faith that it isn't. (The friend in question is still going steady with the same person, however--maybe it's one of those binding experiences?)

Jack then gives a male perspective to this holiday, FOR ONCE:

OK, finally a question that I have opinions on and know enough to answer. ^_^ This is all from a male perspective, of course, me being male.

First the really, really obvious stuff. Since you are (or should be) trying to make your girlfriend happy to be with you, and enjoy sharing your hobby, pick something you think -she'd- like. It being Valentine's Day, it should also be romantic.

That being said, my choice would be Usagi Drop. First, it's really, really good. It's also a multi-layered love story. Totally non-sexual with Rin, not quite so much with Yukari (though only in thought). Daikichi is also a perfect dad and (presumably) husband. He spends a -lot- of time thinking about how to care for Rin. Having your girlfriend think, "Ooh, how sweet" and snuggle up to you has to be a plus; especially if she gets the idea that you'd be just as good a father and all around nice person. (Hopefully, you really -are- that nice a person. ^_^)

Rgaspar mentions the dangerous "pander" word, but plays it off well:

When it comes to this I quickly check over all the rom-com animes I've seen and none of them would work, except one little piece that isn't exactly a romantic comedy.

I'm talking about the film "The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya".

While there's a good bunch of Tsundere Haruhi, at its core there's a story of a girl in need of attention and affection, a girl that will alter the time continuum in order to be with her beloved one, in order to be noticed (And she's not the main girl of the series, mind you!). To make things even better, everything happens in the context of a very snowy Christmas season, with a lot of moments that put the capital D to the word D'aww. Like that scene of Kyon comforting said character near the very end of the movie. Isn't just beautifully animated, but you can tell just by looking he's caring about her for the first time in the whole franchise.

I know this is pretty much otaku-pandering, but could it be any more effective? When I was watching the ending credits for the film, I'd have snuggled up with my (hypothetical) sweetheart ASAP.

And now, Sarah Bryant offers some suggestions for Valentine's day or Anytime day, both of which contain that most romantic of typographic symbols, the tilde:

Guess what, Answerman... I've got two anime that are PERFECT for lovers who want something romantic to watch on Valentine's Day:

Ef ~a Tale of Memories~ and Emma ~a Victorian Romance~.

Two very different anime for two very different types of Valentine's Days. But both have the magical ingredient that every romance needs: the ability to stir the heartstrings.

For those who like classic romances like Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility, Emma is the perfect choice. As much a masterpiece for its attention to historical detail as for its tenderly romantic story, Emma is the classic tale of a forbidden love between a maid and an aristocrat. Though it is not without its love triangles, frustratingly indecisive characters, or cliche romantic scenes, Emma carries itself with a grace that is rare in anime of this genre. You will get no panty flashes. No groped breasts. No lewd comments from teenage boys who are driven by their hormones to leer at every girl who passes by. Emma holds itself to a standard that is far above all these things. It is the type of anime that calls out to the mature romantic in all of us. So, for those who want an anime with a gentle touch that can melt the heart, Emma is the perfect choice.

If Emma is the perfect classic, then Ef ~a Tale of Memories~ is the perfect modern romance for anime fans. Where Emma brings to life a time period of courtship, ballroom dancing, arranged marriages, and class struggles, Ef lives in the present with the emotionally-driven teenagers of the modern day world. An anime that thrives on passion, Ef is a visually stunning romance that takes viewers on all the ups, down, loops, and twists of the teenage drama roller coaster. Just like Emma, you get the love triangles. You get the frustrating indecision. And you get the modern take on cliche romance too. But if Emma is about melting your heart with a gentle touch, then Ef is about eating your heart out, spitting it on the ground, and then stomping on it, before handing it back to you bloody, beaten, and broken, yet somehow leaving you wanting more. Believe me when I say this...Ef is an anime that pays off. Yes, it's got angst. Yes, it's got fanservice. And while I love the visuals, the artistic touch is not for everybody. But if you're willing to sit through all the heart wrenching, Ef will surprise you in a way that few anime can. As a modern day fairy tale, Ef is worth every moment.

So there you have it...my two romance anime that would be perfect to watch on Valentine's Day. Or any other day, for that matter.

Jill now brings to our attention a most... uncharacteristic choice for the holiday:

Hey Answerman!

So this may seem extremely strange, but when I think of snuggle-time anime, my first thought is Needless. Ridiculous, right? But hear my out. My now ex-boyfriend and I (sadly we had to break up due to long-distance, but we're still close!) decided to start having anime nights together. At first we stuck with our favorites to introduce to each other, but then we moved to stuff we both wanted to see, but hadn't gotten around to. Top of the list at the time was Needless. His appeal in the show lied with the lolis, mine with the fabulous bare-chested men. The entire show is really really bad and ridiculous, but we didn't care, and just had a great time watching it together! And yes, we curled up in front of my laptop watching the show and had an amazing time. Even though we're not dating anymore, we still have a bond based around this show, and my ringtone is "Modern Strange Cowboy" when he calls. I'm not against watching romances with your sweetheart, but having something completely different was better for us.

And lastly, give it up for Javier, who comes up with a pretty great gag answer:

There is only one thing worth watching on this day of love.....Welcome to the Ogenki Clinic!

That was both quite sweet and somewhat awkward. Much like Valentine's Day is supposed to be. Especially several days after the fact.

For next week's question, though! There was something I was wrestling with when I was answering the first question, but I wanted to save it, because I figured it would make for a pretty good discussion for all of you out there. And here it is!

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.

That's all the content I've got ready, so I am officially out! Don't forget, as per usual, to drop off some quality questions or answers or witty bon mots over at my inbox of Answerfication at answerman[at]animenewsnetwork.com! Good day to you all!

discuss this in the forum (76 posts) |
bookmark/share with: short url

this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history

Answerman homepage / archives