Hey, Answerman! - Dub Stepsby Brian Hanson, Mar 30th 2012
Well hello there, people! Welcome to Answerman, once again!
Just got out of an audition, and I'm feelin' pretty good. Getting the chance to stand on a stage and shout Shakespeare, even if it's only for the bemusement and judgment of a casting director, is always a good time. At least for me; reciting Shakespeare's lines is a sort of zen-like affirmation of my love for language, and also a harsh reminder of how little talent I have in comparison.
But you know what? Shakespeare didn't know jack-all about Japanese animation. Take that, you dead sonnet-writing prim!
It's been over 4 months since Disney XD has aired any episode of Naruto Shippuden. There are still links to Naruto Shippuden on the Disney XD website but it has been removed from the XD shows category. The show has had its set off issues for a variety of edits and additions, switching time slots, and lack of promotion on the XD channel. It has the hallmarks of a bad marriage. While Naruto Shippuden is a very popular anime stateside it contained material that was in direct conflict with Disney's culture and values, most notably killing and the act of killing (in fact, the last Disney title I saw that had killing was the Little Mermaid). While it might have been a move to bring more viewership under the Disney fold, was this project doomed from the start? Is anime relegated to Adult Swim and other late-night slots on small cable networks, never to appear on a network with a bigger viewerships, and is this further confirmation that anime on TV is doomed to obscurity?
Alright, I agree with most of what you're saying, that this is a "bad marriage" as you put it, except for this one important thing: that Naruto Shippuden is somehow "in direct conflict with Disney's culture and values." What?
Listen: this isn't the Disney of the 60's and 70's. This isn't the era anymore of Disney spending millions of dollars bringing lawsuits to those who "damage the Disney brand." Disney is no longer a monolithic, whitewashed corporate entity of squeaky-clean family values and hearts and flowers and sunshine. Since then, Disney bought the ABC network, where they paid for and aired an edgy little show called NYPD Blue in the 90's - a time when they bought Miramax and fought the MPAA against an X rating for The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. (A fight they lost, by the way.) They set up Touchstone Pictures - a film label that was on the Disney lot that developed and released adult fare like Con Air and Rushmore.
And now, in 2012, Disney spends a lot of money making rather dark and violent big-budget PG-13 movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and John Carter. Not to mention the fact that they PAID MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO OWN MARVEL COMICS. That's both the proof and the pudding right there - how can Naruto be in "conflict" with Disney's image, when something like The Avengers caters to almost the exact same audience?
Now, there are still some portions of Disney's branding that are considered sacrosanct - notice how, for example, in the Winnie the Pooh portions of the Kingdom Hearts games, you're not running around killing things anymore - but this whole grade-school notion of Disney as this censor-happy, ultra-sensitive bastion of moral cleanliness is completely inaccurate. Disney is in the process of making money. And to that end, they aim to succeed.
The reason that Disney bought Marvel, and the reason that Disney snatched up Naruto Shippuden after Cartoon Network's diminishing returns, is because they had just launched Disney XD - a network meant to attract young boys specifically. Because this was at a time when Disney had every female viewer under the age of 18 under their collective thumb - they were riding high on the successes of things like Lizzie McGuire and High School Musical. But young boys eluded them. And what do boys like? Comic books. Superheroes. Ninjas. Naruto Shippuden made perfect sense for Disney's new XD channel. I thought so at the time. Too bad it didn't work out, I guess.
If anything, the reason this is a "bad marriage" is because Disney doesn't own Naruto wholesale. And by that I mean - Disney is in the business of making money, and while Naruto made sense in an attempt to offer something a bit "different" to gain traction with younger male viewers, Disney doesn't make a single dime off of any merchandising. Viz does. Every Naruto DVD and graphic novel and trading card sold goes into Viz's pockets. Disney owns Marvel, lock stock & barrel. All the money the Marvel merchandise makes is now theirs. So, even if a Marvel cartoon show doesn't pull in huge ratings, no worries - they can think of it as a middling show that helps "promote the brand" and can make money for them in other ways. Naruto Shippuden, meanwhile, has to pull its own weight strictly on ratings, or face the axe.
Was it poor promotion that killed it? I suppose so, in a sense. The only way that something like Naruto Shippuden would've "worked" on a Disney-owned network is if they promoted it heavily to a fresh audience, but that in itself is a risky gamble that doesn't always pay off. And it's not like they could depend on the hardcore Naruto fans themselves to keep the show alive - they all think the same thing you do, that Disney is somehow going to screw up the show in order to fit it in next to The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Which they didn't, by the way - I've seen a couple of the Disney-fied episodes of Naruto Shippuden, and it wasn't any better or worse than the way the show was edited on Cartoon Network. Yes, they covered up the blood and the dirtier jokes, but so what? They didn't do the usual crappy TV dub things, like change names or music, or cut whole entire episodes together.
So at the same time, while I'm exonerating Disney from mishandling the content of the show, I do agree that they mishandled the show itself. Promotion is a tricky thing to get right, especially when it comes to anime, and especially when it comes to an anime with an extremely devoted pre-installed following. Cartoon Network got it right, at least at the beginning, but Disney never really did. I have an idea as to why.
While marketing really isn't the exact science people think it is, if you compare the ads for Naruto on Cartoon Network and Disney, you'll notice something - the Disney ads are your typical, irritating, kids' show garbage, where an over-excited dude with an annoying voice talks to the audience like they're idiots. To put it simply, it tries too hard. Look at the Cartoon Network ads, and you'll notice that it's just a little more laid back, and presents the show as something... cool. They use cool music, they cut together cool clips, and the voiceover talking about the show is much sharper and tighter, and much better written. Putting it simply, the Cartoon Network ads don't talk down to their audience, they don't assault you with their energy, and they feel like they give you an accurate representation of the show.
Whether or not you feel like Disney failed to "promote" the show, they certainly failed to promote the show intelligently. And while that sounds like a silly thing to say about a relatively simple shonen series about fighting and friendship, I think the fact that Disney seems to be out of the Naruto business speaks for itself.
As you know, there are several gag dubs out there, such as Samurai Pizza Cats, Sgt. Frog, and who can forget Ghost Stories, which seem to parody the show's existence and change a buttload from the Japanese version. What do you think about these? Do you think they should be more faithful to the Japanese version?
On principle, I LOVE the idea of parody dubs! I LOVE comedy! I love MST3k and other things that cast a snarky and cynical pall over something that was meant to be somewhat authentic. I have no problem with just the idea of it. The problem is... they're very rarely done well. In fact, they're usually pretty painful.
Of the shows you mentioned, the only one that I'd consider an unqualified success would be Samurai Pizza Cats. (Although, that could change, because I still haven't seen the entire show - YET. Much love to Discotek, and I've got that complete DVD set pre-ordered! YES!!!) I love the guys and girls over at Funimation, and I understand where they were coming from with Sgt. Frog, but their dub of that show is pretty hit and miss. And don't get me started on Stephen Foster.
But then, much like Zac Bertschy here, I'm a comedy snob. Nary a day goes by in my life when I'm not listening to a comedy podcast, reading a comedy book, watching a comedy TV series or movie or web video, checking Twitter for funny jokes by comedians, and everything else. And I've done a lot of comedy myself. Comedy troupes, stand-up, improv, whathaveyou. I'm a junkie for it, and so I have a pretty high standard for what I like. The comedy I like doesn't ALWAYS have to be avant-garde Tim & Eric weirdness, but I certainly can't survive off of lazily-hashed-out, reference-heavy sitcoms like Big Bang Theory and Family Guy. Preferably, gimme something in the middle, and I'm a happy comedy camper.
The problem with most of these "parody dubs," as I see it, is that they almost always go for the easy joke. Which is to say - lots and lots of pop-culture references, and lots of characters breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the audience about whatever goofy thing they're currently doing. To get cerebral here for a moment, there's a certain authenticity to telling a joke that gets killed and cannibalized when you have nothing to say except incongruous non-sequiturs and outside references. There's something to be said for having some actual life in your jokes. That's why when Big Bang Theory name-checks a mathematical concept or Planet of the Apes, I cringe; but when Community drops in a character-specific reference to Charlie Kaufman or The Last Starfighter, I laugh. And that's just it, really - character-specific. To pick on Family Guy for a moment, who is Peter Griffin supposed to be, really? He's supposed to be a blue-collar ugly American every-dad, I guess. In the first few seasons of the show, I'll buy that, okay - but now he's just an empty vessel, a conduit for oblique references to everything from musical theater to Benjamin Disraeli. I suppose that could be funny - a blue-collar bloke with a lot of eclectic tastes - but when the character is more incongruous references than actual character, well, what the hell is he?
Even in MST3k, where the characters themselves did nothing but lampoon, lambaste, and laugh cyncially at everything they watched, there was actually a lot of effort made to give those characters... well, character. Mike, Joel, and the 'bots had a lot of energy and personality, as did Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank and all that. (Although I never did like Bobo and the "Brain Guy" all that much. Anyway.) In your average Stephen Foster parody dub, the characters lose their character and simply revert to utter parody. That's funny for a bit, I guess, that the entire cast of the show seems to be in on the joke - but when that joke runs out, what's left? Just a laundry list of references and in-jokes; references and in-jokes that occasionally succeed but mostly fill the air.
So, to me, it doesn't have anything to do with being "accurate" to the Japanese script. Nah. Who really cares? Shin-chan, Ghost Stories, and even the forthcoming Samurai Pizza Cats are gonna have authentic subtitle tracks, slavishly translated from the Japanese script. That's still there - the parody dubs haven't taken that part away. My problem just comes from snobbery and elitism and all those other things people often accuse me of being. I have no beef, qualm, or quarrel with parody dubs as a conceit. Hell, I mean, as a comedy guy, I'm sure that writing a parody dub would be a lot of fun! But I'm not going to presume that I could somehow do any "better" than anyone else. (Especially not somebody like Evan Dorkin. Jesus.) I have those same basic instincts to just make a silly joke-filled, reference-heavy script.
Essentially what I'm saying is that comedy is hard, self-conscious comedy is even harder, and doing it right requires a lot more time, effort, and money than most people/companies are able to devote to it. Unless you pay me a lot of money to do it, fly me out to Cabo and book me in a five-star hotel all-expenses-paid, and your script will be perfect or your money back*.
*(Guarantee not guaranteed.)
In response to your Mar 23rd 2012 "article" (or whatever you call it), in which you discussed Fansubbing, there is one thing you neglected to cover: "Bad dubbing".
How many animes have been changed or altered, to suit what the translating companies thought would be more "appropriate for American audiences". When they take a plot and change it just so it is suitable on Cartoon Network, or alter irrevocably some minutia that "only seems important to the fans", they damage a perfectly workable anime, by trying to conform to American standards. If the fans wanted American standards, we'd be watching American TV, don'cha think?
I can't count the number of animes that have been "ruined" (in my opinion) by dubbing (partly due to my horrible memory). Have you ever watched an anime in Japanese, and then in English? The voices seldom fit the feel of the originals. And for heart-wrenching shows like Clannad, in which Sunohara Yōhei's voice seemed like a normal guy in Japanese, they decided to use some kooky pipsqueaked voice for the English version, ruining any compassion you might have had for that character in later episodes where they delved into his life a bit more. I wish I could say that was the worst example of voice screwups I've come across, but sadly, no. Getting the original feel of the show (the way the original creators intended) is all but impossible without hearing the original, and since EXTREMELY few people know Japanese, subtitles are all but necessary to see the original vision of the anime, the way the creator intended it.
I know you're thinking that we could just watch the subtitles on the DVD when they are released in the states, and I do. I, unlike my sub-watching brethren, am a patient man (probably more than I ought to be). But the problem is, that even the subs are ruined, because they were done by the same people who ruined the dubs!
And one more thing about English release subs, is that they are often not as good as the fansubs. Referencing Clannad again, the fansub I watched was not only more accurate than the DVD release, and faithful to the original script, but it also offered captions at the top, whenever a cultural reference was used in a situation or in a joke. In the English translation subtitles, they simply changed it to something that English-speaking people would understand, but then the meaningfulness of the reference was lost, or the joke no longer made sense, and people who didn't know would just mark it up to "those wacky Japanese and their strange sense of humor". Even the scene where they talk about changing Tomoyo's name over a dinner conversation (which was comically wacky in Japanese) left me dry in the English version, when the translated it differently, losing the comedy of the situation slightly.
It really makes me want to learn Japanese, and on SOME level, I have, as I pay attention to common words and their usage as I watch & read. But even if I learned Japanese (which I fully intend on doing at some point, so I can start just buying the JDVDs), my friends still wouldn't be able to watch them with me, and the "group experience" would be lost.
I still buy the English DVDs (even when they end up sucking), but oftentimes, I wouldn't know WHAT to buy, were it not for the *ahem* "FREE" subs released online. And how watching for free online is different than watching for free on the TV with crappy dubjobs when I would PREFER the subs, I may never know. I try to remain unbiased and see both sides, but I just can't see where subs are hurting the industry, when the quality of the DVDs is better, which prompts people to buy them. And as for the legal streaming videos, well, they are such crappy quality (typically), that I just can't stand watching! I have an HDTV, and those streaming animes are just so horrible to watch that it ruins the viewing experience. I would sooner just wait (and I do).
Sorry for the length, but I just wanted to explain MY side of the situation, and although I know that it does not represent EVERY anime fan (I have a friend who likes the dubs better, but then, he doesn't like reading much either), I think that my situation somewhat justifies my actions. And if they don't, I would just as soon go to jail over it...truth.
The part of this, uh... rant that I'm going to take away from this is that - yes, there *is* something to be said, at the end of the day, regarding poor dubs being, in most cases, a rather unsatisfactory introduction to an otherwise quality series.
Still! Here's something I just want to clarify. Noting that you, admittedly, don't speak the language, that makes your statement that you can somehow gauge the "accuracy" of a translation completely irrelevant. It's admirable that you genuinely want to learn the language and be able to discern these things, but until then, you can't. I understand that you've no doubt noticed how certain words and phrases can be translated many different ways, but it's IMPOSSIBLE to say that a certain Japanese word or phrase can ONLY be translated one specific way. There's this little thing called "context," here. I'm remembering way back when, watching blurry VHS fansubs of Rurouni Kenshin - Sanosuke would often utter the word "kuso." Now, "kuso" can be translated a MILLION different ways - from a simple "damn" or "crap" all the way to the word "shit." It all depends on the context of the scene and the character. But, Kenshin is a pretty broad, 13-and-up series - I highly doubt ANYONE involved in the show's production ever intended Sano to say the word "f***." Which is exactly what the fansubbers felt was necessary.
Whether you like it or not, the subtitles on a commercially-released DVD are translated and edited by professionals, while fansubs are done by hobbyists. I'm not saying that either the professionals nor the hobbyists are above reproach, but as a non-Japanese speaker, the sticking point for me is that the DVDs, with the "professional" translation, have the rubber stamp of approval from the Japanese licensors and creative staff. The fansubs don't. The whole notion that a fansub will have a more honest appraisal of the Japanese creators' "true intentions" is false. A different interpretation, sure. But never "more accurate."
Insofar as streaming anime not being up to your astronomic quality standards, we'll simply chalk that up to a matter of opinion. However stubborn that opinion may be.
But let's talk about the dub thing, because I can agree with that. A bad dub does NO ONE any favors. For example: the dub of Redline is so flat and dull, it's basically a travesty. How a movie that ebullient and energetic could inspire a dub so listless and lifeless is completely insane. Plus, that movie had a real shot at launching itself above and beyond the core group of us hardcore anime fans and into the eyeballs of curious bystanders! But with a bad dub, that's just not really an option. Just go ahead and consider that outside audience a non-issue, because that dub isn't going to engage anyone.
Now, I don't know where this whole "suitable for Cartoon Network" rage is coming from. It's been several years now since Cartoon Network bothered to air any anime that wasn't called Pokemon. And Adult Swim isn't any better. The only relatively recently-produced anime series they've aired over the past two years were Durarara!! and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Anime companies nowadays pretty much know not to bother tailoring their shows for Cartoon Network's benefit, because it's largely a wasted effort.
The *other* point that you made, that I feel is worth exploring, is this lingering notion that there are still shows out there that would be otherwise "undiscoverable" without the aid of free and abundant fansubs. My point last week is that as Crunchyroll continues to improve upon their M.O. of giving their fans unfettered, immediate access to *ALL* the newest shows within days after they air, I'm of the opinion that fansubs will further and further push themselves into irrelevance, until their audience becomes an infinitesimal echo-chamber that exists solely for its own sake. And I think there's a good case to be made for that, as Crunchyroll's membership and viewer stats grow while bittorrent downloads decline. I just did a quick gut check on a major anime torrent site, and sure enough, the latest episode of Naruto Shippuden has been downloaded less than half as much as the latest episode from March of 2011.
Still, I think there's fertile ground to be mined from this question about fansubs and the exposure it still can grant. Hey, that brings me to the next segment!
It's the Answerfans banner! That means that all the non-bolded text below comes courtesy of YOU, the readers! Last week, "inspired" as I was by the broiling Mass Effect 3 imbroglio, I wanted to get your take on the messy subject of messy endings:
We begin with Ben, who plays one of his Greatest Hits, "Why The New Tenchi Muyo Series Sucks:"
Over the years, I've seen my fair share of anime series of varying quality with disappointing endings (or, in some instances, no endings at all).
I could count on two hands (make that two hands AND two feet) the number of OVA series that have ended poorly or without an ending. I would later forgive most of those series upon discovering that the animation studios either ran out of money or used it to promote a manga (and really, if the series in question wasn't that popular to begin with, why bother demanding an ending?).
However, I feel that if fans are short-changed on a decent (and conclusive) ending, they should demand a better conclusion. Sure, five-odd years ago, it may have been inconceivable to think there'd be a sequel to Inuyasha (especially since the series wrapped up in late 2004 on an inconclusive note), but lo and behold, come 2009, Inuyasha came back (as "Inuyasha: The Final Act") and finished the story that had started some 160+ episodes ago. Another example would be the uproar regarding the ending to Hunter x Hunter's first series back in 2001. Granted, they'd follow up with a bunch of OVA series between 2002 and 2004, but who knew that last year, Madhouse would pick up the ball dropped by Nippon Animation and start over with a refreshed and more tightly-condensed series? Now, I'm fully aware that there's no guarantee that this will lead to any sort of satisfactory ending, but as long as they have the manga to adapt from, at least the series is being given a new lease on life (at least as long as original author Yoshihiro Togashi is able to continue the original manga without going on extended trips to pachinko par... I mean "breaks").
My point being that if there is a popular series (or, in some very rare instances, not-so-popular series) that deserve a better ending, fans should take photos of the DVDs of their favorite series, find some way to send them to the animation studios (or the distributors), and tell them you want, nay, demand to see a better ending to the series in question. Granted, there's a very slim-to-infinitesimal chance that a better ending will be made (and if it's a series by Gonzo, you can forget about ever seeing any kind of conclusive ending), but it's worth a shot. Also, bear in mind that it will only work if a series is popular or has a hardcore (read: wealthy) fanbase (so, alas, there will be no sequel for "Princess Nine" or remakes for "Those Who Hunt Elves" or "Martian Successor Nadesico").
However, there are instances where fan demand can go awry. I made a vow two years ago to never mention this series again, but ladies and gentlemen, I give you "Tenchi Muyo: Ryo-Ohki" as a prime example of fan demand and good intentions gone completely haywire (it also didn't help that it felt like Masaki Kajishima was phoning it in, but I already went on at length about this series in a different "Hey Answerfans!" column).
Still, if there's a TV series (or OVA series) that deserves a better ending, speak your mind (but be careful what you wish for). Also bear in mind that it's never too late to demand a sequel to a vintage series; if Magic Bus can make a new TV series for "Space Adventure Cobra" more than a quarter of a century after the first TV series (also made by Magic Bus), who's to say that Sunrise couldn't conceive a new "Dirty Pair" TV series? (Let's try to forget about "Dirty Pair Flash", shall we?)
Samantha sweetly serenades surreptitiously, sincerely:
"Once upon a time" and its bittersweet brother "happily ever after. The End," have always held more meaning for me than they probably should. Stories are the one thing I've always been good with, the one thing I really get. Sometimes a good story can seem more real to me than anything reality can provide. So while the X-box's sojourn at college has kept me from the specifics of Mass Effect's ending, I'm more than capable of talking about stories.
A Story deserves its ending. Not the fans. Not the audience. Not you. You might have laughed, you might have cried, but you didn't bleed. You only get to come along for the ride. The story cut itself. The story ached. The story did what needed to be done to hold itself together even knowing that the outcome might not be anything it wants. It's the story itself that has earned its ending, not you.
As long as an ending is true to the whole -- even if that ending is horribly depressing or ridiculously optimistic -- than that is the ending it should have. The old fashioned cowboy will go out with a bang because not even the physical embodiment of the impossibility of outrunning your past can run forever. Justice will prevail because the master planner never concerned himself with the single promised consequence of his weapon choice. A happy ending will be gained because nothing else could be considered equivalent for years of struggle and sorrow. That is how it is and how it should be. That's what makes it beautiful.
Maybe I'm being too vague, so let's talk Monster. Johan is one of those dark and cruel and mindless evils that slips in where reason goes away, the nightmare that dances just on the edge of the firelight. He does not deserve to live. Tenma is as good and true as Johan is monstrous, perfect hero material. Johan has framed Tenma for several murders, perfect motive. Tenma feels personally responsible for all Johan's murders since he saved Johan's life, perfect guilt complex. Yet our hero Kenzo Tenma does not deserve to kill Johan. If Tenma murdered someone - not causing death by omission like with the mayor or out of self-defense as almost with Roberto, but a deliberate and willful killing - Tenma would break and Johan would win. Tenma could no more kill Johan than Yotsuba Koiwai could go into a cannibalistic berserker rage or Alucard and Father Anderson have a tea party. So here we have an impossible solution: a villain who must die and a hero who could never kill him. In the end, the story is true to itself. It might not be perfect, but it's the only way it can go.
If the ending is sloppy, if the ending is cheap, then, yes, you can complain. Complain because the story deserved better than that, not because you feel cheated. It's pointless though. A true creator laughs and cries and yells, "don't open the door," just like the fan yet the door get opened anyway because that's the way it's meant to happen. A true creator knows a bad ending. You can't put that much love into something without knowing it to its core, but sometimes putting enough love into something isn't enough to save it. God knows that time is too short and worlds too complicated and the penalty for kidnapping G.R.R. Martin too severe for some series to ever come to a satisfying conclusion. The only thing to do is love the parts you can and cope with the parts you can't.
Ruth, meanwhile, is quite direct:
No way do I feel a fan has the right to demand a different ending from a series or story! I think all the noise and craziness surrounding Mass Effect sets a bad precedent for the way fans view the stories they love. As a long time anime fan, I'm used to shows not having endings, having rushed endings, or ending on a generally ambiguous note. Some of my favorite shows come under one of these three categories. Yeah, it's a little disappointing. But I refuse to let the amazing experience I had with the characters be ruined by not having an ending I agree with. It may be a while before I go back to a series, if the ending didn't live up to what I wanted. However, if the show is quality entertainment, then its (more or less) fine with me. I'll be a satisfied, but unhappy, customer still.
Sam stands strongly, speaks swiftly:
Why yes, I DO feel like I deserve a good ending after sticking with a show through good times and bad. If I watch a show from the beginning, see every episode, and then get a bad ending, I'd be very pissed. Just ask the poor Trinity Blood, Tenchi Muyo, or Rurouni Kenshin fans. Conversely, the Inuyasha crowd were finally rewarded with the ending they wanted, even though almost everyone saw it coming long before Rumiko Takahashi came close to writing the final chapter and it was saccharine, silly, and a little nonsensical (Inuyasha & Kagome held a torch for each other for 3 years when their relationship was so tumultuous? Really?). The producers of Fullmetal Alchemist were forced to make up their own ending (heck, an entire second half) to finish the show as the manga soldiered on, but a lot of people were happy with it. They were even nice enough to make FMA: Brotherhood to use the manga's ending (and other stuff they originally altered) to further please fans.
The main hang up about the situation is that many animes are made to carry on just as long there's profit to be made, no matter how how strong or weak the plot & storylines (*coughPokemoncough*). And when profits start to sag or the production staff gets tired, then they need to come up with a good end game to please us fans, who have more or less been paying their salaries and expect better after standing by them for so long.
Neil is more about the journey than the destination:
For the stories that stick with me, anime or otherwise, a great ending can be a part of it but not necessarily needed. I'm happy to remember individual moments with characters I've grown to care for. And I'll always be grateful for the time spent in experiencing it.
So, when the fan community demands their right to a new "satisfying" ending to the creative endeavor that has engendered this reaction I'd like to take away the microphone, serve them a drink and explain a very simple concept. You can be angry but you don't have the right to demand a change. It's your privilege and there is a HUGE difference.
The Internet has removed a lot of barriers between the product created and the creators. Your opinion can be blasted all over the world with the push of a button and the creators can respond if they so choose. But it's a privilege to use this in the first place. You may have access to the world's biggest loudspeaker but that doesn't give you the right to abuse it.
Just sticking with anime, it takes an army of artists, writers, technicians and money to produce a show. That's their right to do it because they've studied and hired like minded people to pull together a collective vision. No one sets out to make something awful. They know they won't please everybody but that's not their job. Their first audience is themselves and only when they are satisfied will they give it to the masses. We get the privilege of experiencing it without the attachment to the product and then we decide if it's a success or not.
And this reaction is different for everyone. The sad truth is the ending they give you won't match the one in your head. You can demand the right to change it but it will never match the one in your head. So, instead of venting all that frustration to the creators how about just thanking them for the experience and redirecting that energy in your own creative endeavor.
Zensunni makes a pretty valid distinction here:
Endings are, in my opinion, the hardest aspect of many art forms. Whether you are talking about music, writing, TV shows, anime, or even things like painting, knowing when and how to finish off a work, and pulling it off in a satisfying manner, is a difficult task! A truly satisfying ending to an anime is something that I treasure. I love it when everything comes together in the end with a sense of completeness. However, I don't feel that I am entitled to it, nor do I feel the right to demand it if the show ended without it. Indeed, I consider good endings as a sign of greatness. You can't demand that every painter only produce masterpieces, or every song be an inspiring work that sends shivers down your spine. Works of art can be enjoyable, even if the execution is not at the highest level. Ending a story in a satisfying manner is one of the hallmarks of great art. It isn't the consumer's position to demand that an artist perform beyond his or her talent level.
That said, with the tendency of anime to adapt only part of the original source material, it is very easy for a story that has a satisfying ending to be left unfinished due to cancellation or production of the anime before the source has reached its conclusion. In those cases, I do feel cheated! (I'm lookin' at YOU "Full Metal Panic!" and "Spice and Wolf") However, it really doesn't matter how much you whine and complain about it. If the money isn't there to produce the show, it won't happen. I'm all for fan campaigns to get shows in this category produced, but I don't feel that is the same as demanding that a bad ending be fixed.
And lastly, I just want to point out how in love I am with Kayla's last sentence:
In regards to your question, it all depends on how one defines a satisfactory ending. Is a satisfactory conclusion one in which every single loose end is tied up and viewers are left definitively knowing the futures of the main characters and the answers to every single plot point? Or is a satisfactory conclusion one in which there's still potential for a sequel and a few minor unanswered questions and destinies, but the viewers pretty much know what's happened to the main characters for the time being? For the most part, it seems fans are pretty happy about these two types of endings.
From what I've noticed though, fans get very angry, very quickly with cliffhanger conclusions, where it's not known how the story turns out (Sopranos, anybody?). However, there are a few people who like those kinds of endings, since it allows them to be creative with the ending. As for myself, I prefer the ending that best fits the tone of the show or manga. Some shows are very lighthearted and the viewer expects to know that the characters have had a happy ending, whereas other shows are known for being weird or mysterious or confusing, so it makes sense that the ending will still leave questions unanswered and fates undetermined. So long as the ending makes sense in the context of the shows' world and the characters I have come to know, I'll be okay with it.
As to the second part of your question, I really don't see the point in demanding a satisfying ending if you feel it hasn't been given to you. I mean, what are the odds the creators/author/producer are just going to up and write a new ending, if they felt the first was fine? Alright, admittedly, this has happened before, like when Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock, only to reveal he was alive after extreme fan backlash, but it certainly doesn't happen with every single property, or else the fans would soon be writing the shows instead. And isn't that what fan-fiction is for anyway? Endings really ought to be left to the author, who admittedly did create the story in the first place. And besides that, there's always going to be somebody somewhere who disagrees with the ending in question. And, as I said before, if you don't like the ending, there's always fan-fiction.
Speaking of endings, let's wrap this up with 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.
Alright guys, time for me to run! Remember as always, fill up my emailbox with your questions and responses by sending them to answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! I'll be back around next time!
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