Hey, Answerman! - Everything Old Ain't New Again

by Brian Hanson,

What's up, guys? This is Hey, Answerman! You know, that thing I do every week usually, where I answer your questions with a healthy mixture of certainty and vicissitude.

Now then, this leftover macaroni salad isn't getting any fresher, so allow me to start answerin' things so I can devour it postehaste:

Hey Answerman,

I've seen this brought up a couple of times on the ANN forums, and it does have me thinking, so I decided to ask your opinion on about it. As time goes on, the OVA (& movie, to an extent) market for anime is definitely dwindling in terms of licensing, partially because you just don't get the same mass value you get by buying a 12/13-episode box set now. Also, since older anime is such a hard sell, many short productions from the past just aren't as viable on their own now like they were back in the 90s & early 00s, though there are some exceptions (mainly whatever Discotek licenses). But one interesting thing Sentai did somewhat recently was a pair of double-packs, which each featured two short OVAs together on one DVD. Continuing off of that idea, could there be any feasibility in licensing & releasing a bunch of these OVAs & movies in bulk, similar to how there are companies who release those ridiculous 50 movie DVD sets?

Now, naturally, I know that those 50 movie sets can happen due to the existence of the public domain, and I'm not sure if Japan has something like that (at least, when it comes to anime), but could even something like, at most, a 10-pack work? There are plenty of companies that have made all sorts of productions that would make no sense in licensing on their own, but might have some larger appeal if it they were packed together, especially if there was a theme to the collection. For example, Toei made numerous short movies for titles like Hell Teacher Nube, Magical Taruruuto-kun, Sakigake!! Otokojuku, & Rokudenashi Blues, which would all be tough sells on their own, but together as a collection (a 9-pack, in this case) it would make an interesting look at the kinds of series Shonen Jump was known for from the late-80s to the mid-90s, which arguably could have a slightly larger appeal. You could also look at the multitude of titles made during the OVA boom of the 80s. Licensing each of the movies would likely cost more to license than it would cost to simply license them all together as a mass package deal, but would this idea even seem feasible in the first place? Would a Japanese company even agree to such an idea, or would they frankly not care how it's released, as long as they get their minimum guarantee (and possible profits, should such a crazy idea actually work)?

Ah, well, this would all be a great idea if it were an easy thing to accomplish, trust me. I'd totally dig being able to get a giant pile of weird old anime OAVs for around 40 dollars and spend a solid weekend gorging myself on them. But it would probably be too much of a licensing headache and a financial risk to justify what would be, probably, very modest profits. If there were any profits to be had.

For one thing, while it was hardly uncommon to license things "in bulk," as it were, in the 90's and 00's - that's how things like Ghost Stories got licensed, as they were "packaged" together with other titles that companies like ADV actually wanted - that's a practice that has decidedly stopped. DVD licensing these days is such a careful and measured investment, considering how stagnant DVD sales have been over the years. Not to mention that shelf space in traditional retail is also an issue, and no retailer out there is likely to devote precious shelf real estate to unproven, extraneous properties.

So, the sales issue is obviously a stumbling block. But another problem is that, for a lot of older OAV titles, the masters and original materials for these titles are often in terrible shape, to the point that they would basically be considered unreleasable without a proper remaster. And chances are, the original Japanese license holders won't bother to clean them up themselves (unless they have their own plans to rerelease them, which is rare), and the expense of remastering an oddball OAV title or two is just out of the budget for something like this.

Packaging disparate titles together in double-packs and sets and stuff works for companies like Sentai and Funimation as a means of simply cleaning out inventory for discs they've already pressed and packaged; going out of their way to acquire new-old titles for the purpose of a single set would also pose a tricky marketing issue. What would you call such a thing, anyway? "Magical 80's Anime Wacky Pack"? "OVA Value Smorgasbord"? And then you've got to design those packages and of course hire translators to write subtitle scripts, and it all adds up to a bunch of billable man hours that aren't helping keep costs down, which of course eats into P&L statements, and... yeah.

I know, I know - this is another one of those times where I sigh and resign myself to simply say something pedantic like "it's nice to want things, but there's a lot more to making something like that than you might think." I mean, if there's ever a guy who would LEAP at the chance to own a crapload of bizarre, forgotten, and mistreated old trinkets from anime's storied past, that guy is me. But the money just isn't there for something like this to make any real sense.

It's a scary and expensive world out there in the DVD market. Even bundled together at a value, it's hard for stuff like Power DoLLS and Ushio and Tora to get any attention and sell units. Note to self: browse Amazon later to see if you can't pick up Ushio and Tora on the cheap. The DVD copy I got for review on Anime Jump! years ago got lost during a move.

With Bandai no longer releasing or licensing anime in the US, in your opinion, is this the end of any Gundam anime reaching the US? Although right now Sunrise has it's own Youtube channel (Anime Channel) in which it's streaming the the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Zeta Gundam, Gundam Wing, and Gundam 00, the idea of physical release on DVD may seem impossible now, even though it seems like Sunrise is releasing newer Gundam series like AGE with english subtitles in Japan for possible import, the prices for their single volumes would be incredibly expensive.

Here's the thing about Gundam that I think people often forget: Yeah, it's considered this sacrosanct, long-lasting sci-fi franchise that has weathered the Japanese pop-cultural landscape for over 30 years. It's had a potent impact on anime, manga, novels, and other things. But! First and foremost, Bandai's concern regarding Gundam is based around one thing: selling toys.

Okay, okay - model kits. Whatever.

After Bandai took a bath on toys for Gundam SEED in North America - I remember seeing those figures hit the clearance aisle in KB Toys in record time - you'll notice that merchandising efforts for Gundam stuff basically stopped, aside from the video games. But that probably has more to do with Bandai Namco's licensing decisions more than Bandai and Sunrise themselves.

And if you can't sell toys, what's the point of bringing over something as acutely kid-focused as Gundam AGE? I think the decision to put English subtitles on Gundam AGE is particularly telling. I mean, if ever there was a show that begged to get a dub and airtime on Cartoon Network or The Hub or Nickelodeon, Gundam AGE is it. Quality notwithstanding, it's colorful, it's fun, it's clearly designed for kids, and of course - there's an army of toys to go along with it! But, nope - English subs on the Japanese Blu Rays. No dub.

And with no dub, no TV broadcast. No TV broadcast, no possible chance of merchandising. No merchandising, no real point to releasing a Gundam show these days.

I think the real bummer is that we were teased with the possibility of finally seeing a release for Turn A Gundam, only to have it yanked away from us at the last moment as Bandai Entertainment wound down their Western operations. I'm a big Gundam apologist - I've forced myself to watch every single Gundam show that has thus far made it stateside. And even some that haven't! Yes, I've watched Gundam X! It's a pretty good show, I think! But even then I still have to admit that Gundam, taken as a whole, is a pretty mixed bag. And since Gundam Wing miraculously hit it big in the early 00's, it's been a very steady decline. Gundam SEED had a promising start and Bandai Entertainment and Cartoon Network bet on its success pretty hard, and that didn't last long. Gundam 00 seemed like it had the right elements in place, but that one quickly went sour, and I don't think its performance on the Syfy channel did anyone any favors. It wasn't until Gundam Unicorn came around that I could feel completely in love with a Gundam series again.

But, hey, y'know, things could always change. Bandai, for all we know, could at any point get another wild hair up their collective asses and decide to resurrect their merchandising operations in the West. And when that happens, you'll see Gundam on DVD and Blu Ray and whatever else. But until that time - until Bandai somehow gets the crazy notion that they can sell toys in the West again - again I have to give the standard resigned answer of sorrow; we'll get what we get, and that'll have to suffice. Unfortunately.

Note to self: call my dad and see if I still have that plastic Skull Gundam toy from the G Gundam figures Bandai made for North America in a box with all the rest of my old toys. It was the ugliest, cheapest-looking thing and it always gave me pleasure to look at.

Hello, Answerman.

I was recently inside a bookstore and checking out the manga section, and was thinking of buying Durarara! However, I refrained, wondering if I would really get the "true" feeling of the series, since manga adaptions of Light Novels don't always do a good job of adapting their source material.

Which brings me to my query: do you ever see Light Novels getting their "fair share" in the US anime/manga market? I know they're a tough sell, but it can be frustrating seeing these anime/manga adaptions of LNs being licensed but never getting to read the source material (especially when the anime pretty much is a 12-episode "Buy the LNs to learn more!" ad). Maybe it's because I just bought two anime from RightStuf that are adaptions of LNs (Baka and Test, and Cat Planet Cuties) that got me thinking of this--I'd love to read the original books legally (I don't totally trust fan translations and I don't like reading books on a computer screen) but I'll almost certainly won't ever be able to.

With things like online translations, though (a la Digital Manga, but for LNs) and print-on-demand, I'm hoping for a possibility of more LNs getting translated. So, Answerman, what is your opinion? Do you think LNs could ever have a chance in the US manga/anime market?

The big question when it comes to marketing Light Novels in North America, as I see it, is this: do you put them in the manga aisle? The young adult shelf? Sci-fi? Fantasy? General fiction? Where do they go?

The original cover artwork for light novels are, an overwhelming percentage of the time, decidedly in a manga style. You put a manga cover on any book that isn't manga, chances are it won't move. (Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover, they say. But everybody does!) Change the cover into something less manga-inspired (like with the Spice & Wolf novels) and the fans revolt.

Basically what I'm saying is, the usual retail channels for books in North America, at least, are not particularly conductive to giving Light Novels the sort of exposure they probably need. I mean, I think something like Baccano!! would be pretty fun to read, and when you think about it, the subject matter isn't too far off from what everyone is reading nowadays. A western-set story in an alternate history, filled with magic and monsters. Christ, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was a bestseller; there's no reason Baccano!! couldn't ride some of that wave and onto people's bookshelves or Kindles.

I have no idea how well the altered-cover version of Spice & Wolf sold, but I doubt it was anything extraordinary. As I mentioned last week, if that gambit had paid off in a truly gangbusters way, we'd already be seeing dozens of copycats on bookshelves by now. More so than any other entertainment industry, the publishing industry always seems to operate on a cascading scale of gold rushes. When one zombie book becomes a best-seller, within months, there's dozens of zombie books front and center on bookstore displays. If Spice & Wolf's attempt to break into the mainstream had truly worked, we'd be seeing a lot more light novels find their way to Western bookstores with exceptionally ugly covers.

But! The nice thing about the publishing industry is that - by and large - avid book readers tend to be much more sophisticated and adventurous than other avid consumers of entertainment. Readers are more likely to pick up a book they've never heard of and give it a few hundred pages than most folks are to sample one episode of a TV show they don't know about, a film that isn't based on a franchise, and so on and so forth. It's also an industry that relies a lot more heavily on word-of-mouth. 50 Shades of Grey is proof of this.

All it takes is one title to catch on. But which one title? As I said before, the problem with marketing a light novel is that it's not manga, but it's closely aligned with manga in people's minds, so that's usually where it's marketed. The Haruhi Suzumiya novels will probably sell just fine to the folks who are already familiar with the series, but would anyone unfamiliar with them ever bother to pick them up? Unlikely.

I mean, as it stands right now, I think light novels have their market. Which is, the manga market. I think, personally, that they could have a bigger slice of the publishing world beyond just that market, though; good stories are good stories, and with some clever marketing and a strong translation, I really do think we could see a real explosion in the popularity of light novels in the West.

Note to self: while on Amazon checking for Ushio & Tora, make sure to check and see if there are any cheapo copies of the Gundam novels. Or those terrible original Robotech novels.

Alright guys, it's Answerfans time! I shut up, you start talkin'. That's the rule.

Last week, intoxicated to the point of madness by E3 Mania (a real disease), I posed to you this question:

Christian begins by lamenting the lack of vitality for the Vita (I SO WENT THERE):

I dont know why I get myself so hyped up for e3 each year because it just leads to disappointment and shattered dreams, but a few good things do surface like the new Luigi's Mansion. I was a big fan of the first one so I may go out and by a 3DS just for that game. I'm also looking forward to Injustice: Gods Among Us. I am a big DC fan and a fighting game with a full roster made from NetherRealm Studios. On this disappointing side I thought Nintendo's press conference was a big let down. I was ready to go out and buy a Wii U but Nintendo didn't give me much of a reason to. They showed Pikmin 3 which looked nice. But most of the Wii U's games were games that have already been released on other systems. Sony's conference let me down for their lack of PS Vita coverage, like the Wii U I want a reason to buy a PS Vita. I love my PSP and want the game library on the Vita to expand, I want to see a new Final Fantasy, a new Patapon, and a new Monster Hunter. the Vita has a ton of potential so why are the games not there?

ShinnFlowen's naivete about Final Fantasy Versus XIII is SO CUTE!

E3 was a bit disappointing with the lack of new announcements, but there was plenty to enjoy E3 2012. Ubisoft announced Assassins Creed 3 Liberation with a Female assassin for the Vita, a tweet from Reggie about Fire Emblem Awakening for the 3DS coming abroad, and we saw some demos of beloved franchises. Dead Space 3 had it's official showing of the game explaining the new customization of weapons and cooperative play was exciting. The best thing about Dead Space 3 is that the cooperative play is separate from the solo campaign so you are able to still enjoy the scary atmosphere of playing alone without babysitting an AI partner. News of Resident Evil 6 having each of the 3 campaigns 70% the length of Resident Evil 5's campaign makes me believe that they might have enough time to show a decent story without it being rushed. I'm a Sony fanboy, but Halo 4 had the best presentation as no one knew what to expect and now we have details of new enemies as well as some huge push for cooperative play through weekly episodes.

The most disappointing thing in my opinion was the lack of information on Final Fantasy Versus 13 when Tetsuya Nomura was claimed to state on Famitsu there would be more information shown in E3. They showed us a tech demo of the luminous engine it uses instead of talking about a game that everyone wants more details. Also, Nintendo having a conference to state they need another conference to announce the release data and price made their conference feel partly a waste of everyone's time.

Rgaspar, your "Contra HD" is called "Hard Corps Uprising" and it's pretty great:

Yay! The E3!

I've been following the event for 3 years now, and while this year's E3 wasn't as good as 2010 (But better than 2011), there were still a few good surprises and letdowns on the way.

The biggest new game in town is Watch_Dogs for sure. Just wow. I always loved open-ended videogames of any form (from Rpgs like Xenoblade Chronicles and TES games, to anything that comes of Rockstar Studios), and Watch Dogs just looked amazing. The graphics were awesome, with a lot of bells and whistles (And that sweet 9-minutes-long video wasn't a cutscene, but pure glorious gameplay), the physics felt good (bullet time!), and most importantly, it has the feeling of a thriller story I'd love to know about. Let's just hope the real game is much bigger than what we have already seen.

Now, the second candidate for best game of E3 was the new Tomb Raider. Seriously, Crystal Dynamics deserve all the credit they can get for making Lara a (hot) gaming icon again. And that's something that every guy part of the "playstation generation" should be proud of. If we loved to play as Lara when the polygons were in your face (and I mean IN-YOUR-FACE), it's going to be a real bliss to play as the brand new Lara. Plus, the gameplay is like Uncharted. With Boobs. As Charlie Sheen says: "Epic Winning".

Finally, I had a soft spot for all-things SimCity. Although the trailer didn't look as good as I'd like to, you don't see the return of an old franchise (It's been 10 years!) every day. I'd gladly take what I'm given, orverpriced or not.

As for disappointments, the king was Nintendo. Last year the WiiU was barely mentioned. I can get that, you are working on a new system, there's nothing to show. Ok. But now, the WiiU it's coming in like 6 months, and they didn't even say a proper release date! I still get that nasty feeling of a console made for casual gamers. Wii 2 I'd call it. ZombieU is cool, I give them that, but it's not enough. With no Mario or Zelda HD in sight, Mass Effect 3 and the rest of those multi-platform games of yore aren't good enough. And where's my Contra HD???!

I sympathize with Haley's plight, although I think my Twitter followers have sadly resigned myself to constant annoyance by now:

So I've already annoyed all of my Twitter followers with my fan squealing and nerd raging on E3 so why not Anime News Network?

I have a tendency to ramble, but I'll try to keep this shortish. I like to end things on a high note, so let's talk about what I found disappointing first.

I was one of the people that thought the conferences were mostly pretty disappointing. I don't really know what Microsoft was thinking when they spent most of their conference focusing on anything BUT video games. I know it's a press conference and they're not necessarily trying to appeal to "hardcore" gamers, but it's still a video game conference, so focusing so much on Usher, tablet connectivity and some Nike app just seemed...odd. I don't mind that it was THERE, but they should've made those moments shorter and moved on to more games.

Nintendo was disappointing too, partially because it had such a fantastic start. I'm sure Nintendoland does a good job of showing what the WiiU is capable of when you play it, but it really didn't come through on stage, so the huge amount of time spent explaining how ONE mini-game worked right at the end of the conference was a really bad move. Rayman Legends did a much better job of showing how fun playing with the tablet could be, and that demo wasn't even in Nintendo's own conference!

Which leads me on to one of the high points: Ubisoft's conference. WOW. Yeah, the dialogue they wrote for the hosts were terrible, and the opening with yet another dance game concert and yet another shooter wasn't particularly exciting. But once it got going, MAN did that conference get going. Rayman Legends is the perfect game for my group of five video game buddies to play together, and Watch_Dogs in particular was one of the best things I saw in any of the conferences. The fascinating world they built up in the demo, plus the promise of really unique multiplayer, sounds absolutely fantastic.

I'm also curious about The Last of Us. I know that demo was pretty brutal, but I think the mood of what they're going for with the setting is communicated really well--sort of like an HD Fragile Dreams with much better combat- (And as a voice actor nerd, I'm thrilled that Troy Baker's been getting cast in so many great games lately.) It looks like there's a lot of freedom given in how you can play through the game, which I love.

In fact, that's an exciting trend I see slowly building up in the industry: giving players choices in how they want to move through the game. Watch_Dogs, The Last of Us, Dishonored and even Epic Mickey 2 have all been hyping up the ideas of giving players real choices in how they play their games, which I think has a huge amount of promise, and has also worked well for games in the past. I really hope this trend ends up being profitable so that it'll continue.

So overall, I feel like the conferences were mostly disappointing (excluding Ubisoft), but there's definitely some potential in a lot of the games that were shown on the floor. Here's hoping that development on these games goes well--I see a lot of time spent with great games in the coming future.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Neal - the only man to have said, on the internet, he "LOVES" escort missions without intended sarcasm:

The games that provoke the best reaction with me usually have a story component of some kind. So, what I saw left me with wildly optimistic in some cases and dismayed in others. Here are my thoughts with these caveats. I've never been big on motion controls so Playstation's Move capable games and Nintendo's offerings didn't interest me. Hardware and economic failure forced me to abandon the XBox 360 last year and while I might miss more adventures with Master Chief and Cortana I think I can live without it. That said, Halo 4 looks just as fun as the rest of it was.

Beyond: Two Souls from Quantic Dream certainly looked pretty but I had the same reaction to that extended trailer that I did to the demo to Heavy Rain. It's a movie that wants to be a game and can't decide between the two. The story component looks better than Heavy Rain and I'm hoping that David Cage's ambition won't cripple the game. Assassin's Creed III made me actually want to start the franchise. And now I'm wondering if I'm going to have break down and buy a VITA just for the Assassin's Creed: Liberation game. The reason I skipped game 1, 2, 2.25 and 2.5 was I couldn't get past the silly convention they had to justify the existence of the historical period by using a modern protagonist experiencing past memories. ASIII probably uses the same conceit and I guess I'll just have to forgive that.

Watch Dogs made me happy because it looks like an impressive new IP. The idea of using the environment as a weapon looks awesome. I was worried watching the demo because this just appeared to be another sandbox style game. I'm hoping the story is strong enough to back up the action. Tomb Raider struck me as the best executed reboot of a franchise I've seen since they made that wild shift in Resident Evil 4. The game appeared doing it's best to make you feel like Lara won't survive what you put her through. My only worry there might be a reliance on Quick Time Events but that might be like complaining about the cup holders in a BMW.

The showstopper for me, however, was "The Last of Us." from the Uncharted team. I LOVE escort missions and protecting this girl while wandering around a destroyed city sounds awesome. The moment crystalized when you and your charge are navigating an abandoned hotel and encounter looters. She picks up a brick to defend herself and in the demo she uses it to help you when you run out of ammo. I had a similar reaction to Bioshock Infinite's demo from the previous year.

I find it amusing that the games I responded to best use game styles that I'm not very good at. Hopefully they'll make me care enough that I'll want to finish them. 2012 to 2013 looks good regardless.

Aw, damnit - Nicole has me curious about Final Fantasy XIV's catboys. YOU WIN.

This year's E3 was pretty empty as far as my interests went - I'm not into the whole 'blowing-up-heads' genre that has been reportedly prevalent this year - but I did find one gem among the releases that especially caught my eye. It wasn't a trailer, because that was specifically held back for later marketing, but the concept art and screenshots that Square-Enix revealed for its upcoming release of Final Fantasy XIV 2.0 had me, point-blank, salivating. Not just because they were beautiful and the character creator image stunning, but because to me it marked just how far a game can come after such a dismal start as FFXIV had. Within days of the initial release Square-Enix was bombarded with fan hate and ire - the game was practically unfinished, near unplayable and severely lacking in content, and a lot of people had shelled out over $80 for it. When the storm hit I half expected SE to simply shrug it off and make a weak attempt at placation...and instead, they replaced almost their entire dev team, made the first several months of play free, and started the rolling towards a complete overhaul of the entire game. And now, over a year later, we come to Final Fantasy XIV 2.0. Even if you aren't an MMO fan (or an FF-fan, or an SE-fan), I think this release is particularly significant because it shows how far a major game company is willing to go to please its fans - an example that I think a lot more companies ought to be looking to embrace.

Plus, after years of the female gamer populace of FFXI suffering through multitudes of male players playing catgirls, we finally get *catboys*. Hurray for gender equality!

And lastly, let's all take to hear the words of Nicholas Zabaly, who was actually at the show itself!

I was fortunate to be able to attend E3 this year, so I had an up-close and personal view of some of the action (though sadly, all I had was a floor pass, and I was only able to go on Tuesday). I've been to E3 in the past, and often have come away with a sense of disappointment that the game industry is not only repeating itself, but is not even offering any worthwhile copies of past successes. In short, I've had a poor opinion of the industry that's been confirmed by my several visits to the event. This year, however, I had a much more pleasant surprise despite the fact that many of the games I'm most hopeful for were not exhibited. Why? Because it seems that, while there is relatively little in the way of 'truly new' content being offered, what is out there is fun, enjoyable, and accessible. In a way, it felt like coming home to some old friends after an absence of a few years.

I've been a gamer since I was a kid, but I never really jumped on the platform craze until much later, so when I first started following E3 news it was for computer games, not console offerings. As such, much of my past experience at E3 was disappointment as the stalwarts of my youth were bought out, merged, or faded away. I remember seeing Will Wright show off Spore a few years back and thinking, "man, that's it, this is really the last gasp of the old Maxis, and now it's gone forever." Recently, however, I've started becoming more involved in consoles, and on doing that I was led to the world of Japanese games. As a computer game fan, I had relatively little exposure to Japanese games for most of my childhood. Now in the last few years, I've been experiencing a lot of them for the first time. This year at E3, I spent almost all my time looking at Japanese games, and barely even saw the American offerings from EA or Activision (though, this was partly due to limited time on my part). What I saw reflects a Japanese industry that, while obviously struggling, is still capable of putting together fun and interesting games. I was very impressed with the playable demo of Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengeance, and also had some fun turns with Dead or Alive 5 and Ni no Kuni (the later of which I suspect will earn many fans in America's niche gaming markets). I was also interested in seeing how, in at least one instance, an American developer has stepped in to make content in a niche originally created by a Japanese property. The title I'm referring to is Epic Mickey 2, which (for all intents and purposes) seems to be a substitution for the long-delayed and desired Kingdom Hearts III. Obviously Epic Mickey and Kingdom Hearts are different games with different mechanics, but the world-hopping Disney concept is similar, as is the target audience. I wonder if Disney and Warren Spector (Epic Mickey's designer) are deliberately working to fill the void that Square Enix has left. It's also interesting to see how Square Enix, via their acquisition of Eidos, has branched into the US market with more obviously-American games. Among their offerings, the new Tomb Raider seemed like an interesting take on the well-known franchise, and may be the first title in the series I'll actually consider.

Still, there's some disappointment to be had for sure. The fact that the Square Enix juggernaut had no new Final Fantasy or (console) Kingdom Hearts news marks another year of waiting for me. I'm not one of the naysayers who claims we'll never see Final Fantasy Versus XIII or Kingdom Hearts III, but the long waits for these titles (and others) does make it tough to stay enthusiastic. Softening that a bit was the knowledge that Metal Gear Solid Rising will be out early next year and is obviously quite far in its development process, but for every title like that, there's a troubled dream project like The Last Guardian that is nowhere in sight. If the American game industry has disappointed me for the lack of innovation and constant repetition of just a few mostly-tired genres, the Japanese industry clearly suffers from overly-long development times, big promises that are hard to keep, and an ever-shrinking fanbase that deprives developers of the financial rewards they ultimately need to continue creating quality works. Still, the fact that we've got some promising titles in the near future, including one that is sure to be a delightful new property (Ni no Kuni), makes this one of the better E3 years. My hope is that the Japanese game industry can find more success with this latest crop of titles, that the promising American titles (Epic Mickey and Tomb Raider) can help bring new charge to developers on our shores, and that European titles like Beyond Two Souls can push new innovation and live up to their potential. And of course, that Square Enix and Team Ico will finally finish up the masterpieces I just know are lurking somewhere on their servers.

And that, dear friends, brings our video game session to a close! Next week, I want you all to set your brains at work dismantling this rather odd request I have, brought on by the influx of con season:

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 that's all for me this week! Don't forget to clog my email inbox full of AMV thoughts and general questionry by emailing me over at answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! Good day and good night to one and to all!

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