Hey, Answerman! - Local-Lies

by Brian Hanson,

Oof. After staying up way too late watching election results and working 13-hour days, I think I'm officially ready for a break or something.

But not yet. No! This is Hey, Answerman! Come presidential elections, sleep deprivation, storm devastation, or other words that rhyme with "tion," I've got some answers to some things you sent to me. With words and facts and everything!

Salutations, Answerman. My curiosity often gets the better of me, and thus I'm going to ask (in multiple phases) a query about the Academy Award process and how it might one day reward a (hopefully) deserving anime. I say hopefully only because we both know Academy Awards aren't necessarily given based on quality - and if anyone doesn't accept that, go watch The Broadway Melody and tell me how much fun it wasn't.

I'll establish a couple of precedents so you don't have to. Spirited Away won Best Animated Feature, and Howl's Moving Castle was nominated for it, thus we know it's possible for an animated movie from Japan to get into the category. There's no precedent for it moving beyond that category, but Disney's Beauty and the Beast was nominated for Best Picture once upon a time, and Toy Story 3 made it into that category too.

So. The nominations for 2012's Academy Awards will appear in January. I'll just say The Secret World of Arrietty has a much better chance of consideration than anything else due to its Disney distribution around the US, but if you'd like to really make this a challenge by picking something else that popped into an LA theater, go for it! What would it take to get Arrietty nominated for Best Animated Feature? How about winning that category? How about making it into the Best Picture race? Saving the best for last... what would it take to win Best Picture?

I realize this is hardly a realistic scenario, but it's not completely impossible either.

Jesus Christ, it's only early November and you're dragging the unfortunate part of my soul that unfortunately cares about Academy Awards? I was hoping to avoid much of my malignant AWARDS FEVER until, y'know, maybe a month or two later.

You're right in that Arrietty's chances of landing an Academy Award nomination would be much higher because of Disney's distribution. Except that, if you read this handy list of all 21 "qualifying" films for the Best Animated Feature award, you'll notice a stark omission: Arrietty didn't make the cut. Although you'll notice that From Up On Poppy Hill did, but that belongs to GKids now, since they'll be handing the distribution of all Ghibli films from here onward.

Why didn't Arrietty "qualify"? The simple answer is timing. Arrietty was originally released in Japan in 2010, which puts it completely out of consideration for the 2012 awards. Disney could've submitted the film for consideration for the 2011 Academy Awards, but... they didn't.

Unlike the general rules of "Oscar voting" for Best Picture, where every Academy member is free to pick from any darnfool theatrically-released movie from the 2012 calendar year, individual categories come with specific qualifications. For instance, in order to be nominated for Best Animated Short Film, it has to be either a) "publicly exhibited for paid admission in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County for a run of at least three consecutive days with at least two screenings a day," or b) "The film must have won a qualifying award at a competitive film festival." Or, you can win a Student Academy Award. That'll work. For a specific list of the "Special Rules" for qualifying for a Best Animated Feature Oscar, they're right here, in case you love quibbling details!

Every year, some major anime film of some kind gets "snubbed" by the Academy and anime fans cry foul. I remember during the very first year the Best Animated Feature award was introduced, in 2001, anime fans were legitimately upset that they didn't nominate Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. They said that with straight faces. I mean no slight to Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, but the sentence "Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust was robbed of an Academy Award" has a certain amount of madness too it.

(Though to be fair, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius *WAS* nominated, so madness is all around us.)

These awards have just as much politicking and hand-wringing as, uh, politics. Manga Entertainment once attempted to qualify Blood: The Last Vampire for the award, but nope - it was too short. Not "feature length." The simple fact of the matter is, Disney had the opportunity to submit the film for the Oscars last year - which could've worked in their favor, since the film opened last February, around the time Oscar Mania hits its stride - but they didn't. Now the Ghibli torch has been passed to GKids, who've gotten lucky once in regards to gaining the Academy's attention - the "surprise" nomination for The Secret of Kells threw practically everybody for a loop, and they're also the company Funimation worked with when they (unsuccessfully) attempted a nomination for Summer Wars.

Personally, I'm happy with the GKids thing, especially in regards to awards campaigns; the problem with Disney running Oscar campaigns for Ghibli films is that they were in direct competition with their own, in-house animated productions. If somehow Disney were able to find some bizarre loophole to make Arrietty eligible, it would be in competition with Wreck-It Ralph, Frankenweenie, and Pixar's Brave. Put yourself in Disney's shoes there: Wreck-It Ralph is a great movie, and it honestly has a very good chance of winning that Oscar next year. It also cost them hundreds of millions of dollars to make. Which movie would you spend most of your time, energy, and, most importantly, money to promote? Your own movie, or Ghibli's movie?

GKids is a much smaller operation, but that only means that there's a lot more at stake for them in regards to From Up On Poppy Hill. GKids' main source of revenue is from foreign animated films they license or sublicense, so it's in their best interest to make sure they get the widest exposure possible. And short of a 100-million-dollar marketing blitzkrieg, what's a better form of marketing than the Academy Awards? They mention your movie in front of millions of people! A 30-second advertising spot during the Academy Awards broadcast would probably cost as much to secure as it would to produce and animate most of the films that GKids reps. Get a nomination, and they mention your movie anyway!

But, like I said, it's a gamble. It's a gamble that either foolish or savvy or monied people take. Lastly, the odds against any anime film ever getting nominated for Best Picture are so outlandishly preposterous that if I spend any more time thinking about it I might need to be lobotomized. Maybe some day, anime - and animation in general - won't be so stereotyped and ghettoized that the notion of a "cartoon" winning a major, prestigious award won't be seen as a shock to the world.

But that's probably not going to happen before January 2013, when this years' crop of nominees are announced. Let's just take a breather and hope that Goro Miyazaki can make a good movie to make up for the dreadful Tales of Earthsea. If it's good, as a bonus, it can get an Oscar nomination. Deal?

So, Crunchyroll has been released in my fine country, Brazil! It's a moment of rejoicing and so much bitching. The number of naysayers regarding the streaming service is astounding, way worse than the North American fans could ever get. I'll admit that some of their complaints are legitimate (the translation could use some work), but for the most part, they're just really not wanting to pay for their anime (I mean, 1080p, simulcast, and all for a great price). Piracy is just too dominant around here. Anyway, I'm getting off-topic. What bugged me is that one of the naysayers' argument was that, since Crunchyroll is an American service, the monthly fee we (Brazilians) pay would not go to the anime producers at all, but only to, well, Crunchyroll itself. Is that total bull (as I imagine it is) or does it hold water?

Good nose there. That is some patented, highly-refined, Grade-A entitled whiny fanboy bullcrap. Of course, far be it from me to insult a large swath of people from another country, but obstinate pirates defiant to reasonable alternatives are annoying in any territory.

Yes, that argument is completely false. I give the floor to ANN's own immense knowledge-fountain, Justin Sevakis, to let you in on why.

Justin: Crunchyroll pays the Japanese producers up-front for the rights to Brazil, as with every other territory. They may also pay a premium for the right to attach Portugese subtitles (some contracts are carved out by language). And also depending on the agreement, it's also quite likely that if viewership targets are met, there are additional royalties paid. (Unlike North America, I highly doubt that there's much in the way of ad revenue, so if those are split, we're probably only talking about pennies there.) And also, let's not forget TV Tokyo is a partial owner in Crunchyroll.

So yeah, lots of money going to the Japanese producers through Crunchyroll. They wouldn't keep getting rights to so many shows otherwise.

I mean, I do think it's nice that people are legitimately concerned that their money goes back, in some way, to reward the original creators, authors, and artists responsible for all the stuff we like to consume. That is a very admirable trait. But there comes a time to practice what we preach and simulcasting and streaming sites like Crunchyroll have made that financial reward easier and cheaper than it has ever been. Put up whatever insane or illogical bit of reasoning you can conjure up to defend piracy in the face of a legal alternative; we'll be here to knock them down, one by one, until there's no excuses left.

Dear Answerman,

I recently purchased the Deadman Wonderland DVD set after having watched the series on Adult Swim, and while watching it got me thinking about Funimation's MO when it comes to dubbing. I was watching it with the English voice track but with a subtitled version of the Japanese Dialogue so I could compare the two and to me the difference was significant. Now Deadman Wonderland is no masterpiece but it is a very fun series, one that I feel is improved by the dub dialogue. The Sub dialogue is pretty garden-variety, nothing to write home about with that awkward stilted-ness that comes from translating Japanese phrases to English. In the dub, not to say that it's eloquent, but to me it breathes new life into the characters; even if it means throwing out a lot of the original dialogue, it captures the intent in the way that feels natural to English speakers. My mind also goes to Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt; though I loved it when watching the simulcast back in 2010, I loved it even more with the Funimation dub, something I thought impossible when I first saw it originally, because it added more humor and character to the proceedings while still fitting with the action on screen.

I compare these examples to some of the works Bandai (RIP) dubbed, things like Cowboy Bebop notwithstanding. For series like Gundam or Code Geass, they try to keep to the original script as closely as possible. And from that comes a stiltedness to their characters. (Though it may be case they weren't particularly well written in Japanese either)

This isn't a question about Sub or Dub (I kinda go halfways, I love the aforementioned dubs but I'll doubt I'll ever watch Madoka like that). It's about what the intent should be on the dubbers part: should dubbers err to stay as close to the original as possible or should they be creative; throwing out and adding stuff while still maintaining some of the intent of the original product in order to appeal to Westerners? I know for some that may be sacrilegious, but I personally agree with this quote from a Final Fantasy VI review: "...while translations cannot, as a rule, be superior to the source material, localizations most certainly can." While I understand wanting to be close to the source material, I feel some changes can improve the product for the end user, and that to a certain extent dubbers should make the work their own. But I'm curious what your thoughts are on this.

I agree with that quote wholeheartedly. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Of course, I'll waste no time trying. See, there's the fact of the matter, and the heart of the matter. Straight, no-frills translations get to the fact of the matter. They take what the characters said in the script, translate it as accurately as possible, and call it a day - because that's what the characters said, and the fact is that these words in English are as close to those Japanese words as possible. The heart of the matter is capturing everything else - the mood, the nuance, the shades of grey, the patina, the worn edges and the sparkling sheen. I guess there's no other proper term in English to "accurately" describe the various fighting moves and attacks that are used by characters in Shonen manga other than "technique," so I guess that's factually correct. But I swear to God, if I have to watch another dubbed episode of Bleach where they say the word "technique," I'm going to scream and not stop. And lucky for me, they say it about 15,000 times in each episode!

I would appreciate it, personally, if the writers and translators felt like they had a bit more freedom to experiment and craft something unique, but still in keeping with the world and the characters. If I never heard the word "technique" or "ambition" in another anime dub for the rest of my life, I'll die a proud, happy man. But I understand where people are coming from who demand devotion and fealty to the original Japanese script. They just want to make sure they're hearing the same show that they're watching, and not ending up with something mangled or butchered and inferior, Saban Dragonball Z style.

Even still, you're absolutely right about one thing - oftentimes, the original Japanese scripts for a lot of these shows were dire to begin with. Now, I like Code Geass, but yeah, that is one messy, stupid script. It's tonally inconsistent, characters appear and disappear at random, and the relationship between the two main characters is so forced and strained it is almost never anything but laughable and idiotic. It's a good thing that show is pretty to look at.

Unfortunately, re-writing entire characters and changing relationships is a major no-no when it comes to localizing anime, so there wasn't much they could really do there with Code Geass. But Code Geass also had a sense of humor about itself - it was so self-serious that it bordered on parody, to the point where it actually became parody on occasion. I could see it, but I could never really feel it with the dub. But, y'know, sure, it got all the words right, translated the plot correctly, and got all the technical stuff correct. Nothing's wrong with it, I guess. But something still isn't right.

I really like it when creative people take a risk and try to put some sort of creative stamp on a localization, but only when it's good. There's the rub - when it's good. There's certainly a fair number of ADR writers who fancy themselves far funnier and more creative with their translations than they actually are (hello, Steven Foster!), and projects with good intentions can easily go completely awry. I was a big fan of Funimation's Shin Chan dub at the start, when they had Evan Dorkin writing solid punch-up scripts and some hilarious jokes, but the later dubbed episodes reveled in the same tired gags and references you'd see on a third-rate episode of Family Guy. At that point, just give me the original Crayon Shin-chan, with its earnest childish stupidity and charm, and leave the JWoww jokes off the page. At least the straightforward translation would feel authentic, if dry; but I'll take anything over pointless, toothless Star Wars references at this point.

I think the secret sauce to a localization, if there is one, is two things: One, don't alter or contradict any plot points or characters. Two, don't go overboard unless you're as talented as Evan Dorkin. It's an awfully presumptuous thing to think you can improve on a title with your localization, when really all that people ask for is a way to understand it in their native language. It's a delicate balancing act. But I reject the notion that it "depends on the show." No way. It depends on the talent. When Carl Macek took his writing skills to all sorts of different dubs, he was always able to make something interesting. (Put your pitchforks down, Robotech haters.) Even Aura Battler Dunbine, a weird and boring Yoshiyuki Tomino fartpile, became something lyrical and cool when Macek was given some leeway to truly "localize" the script. Yet it was still completely part of Tomino's vision and (insane) sensibilities. The two felt one and the same.

So that's what I like out of a localization. I'm sure all of you guys have your own opinions on the matter. NICE SEGUE!

Hey! Hey, guys! Remember that question I asked you all last week? The one about popularity and its possibly malign influence on us? You guys had a lot of cool things to say about it. Here was my question again, for the sake of repetition:

Webster's Dictionary describes "first" as this comment from Justin M:

This is going to seem a bit convoluted, but bear with me....One of Webster's definitions of popular is "frequently encountered or widely accepted." So to answer the first part of your question I would say that that in reference to anime/manga titles, this if half of what popularity means to me. A second definition provided by Webster's, which coincidentally provides the second half of my answer, is that popular means "commonly liked or approved." To me, as far as anime is concerned, popularity indicates both of these definition. Something that is "frequently encountered or widely accepted" doesn't necessarily mean that its liked. For instance (I am also an automotive enthusiast), in the late 80s and early 90s when Hyundai first began selling cars in the US their sales exploded, in fact they broke the record for first-year sales of a new company in the US. They were new and cheap, so Hyundais flew off the dealer room floor and were instantly everywhere on the streets (frequently encountered and widely accepted [accepted by way of purchase]). However, people quickly realized that the cars were crap and compulsively complained about them, they acquired a horrible image (Hyundai was said to stand for Hope You Understand Nothing is Driveable and Inexpensive) and popularity transformed to infamy. They did not have the "liked and approved" aspect.

However, anime is entertainment, so it has to be different. Anime isn't purchased in droves because its cheap and you need to get to work despite its horrible reviews. Although there are examples of horrendously horrible titles that remain "popular" by the first definition provided, they are really infamous, i.e. nearly universally disliked and well-known for their poor qualities. So for an anime to be truly popular and not infamous, it has to be something that's frequently encountered (with merchandise in f.y.e., in adverts on anime sites and in mags, on every blogs top 10 of the year list, etc etc) as well as commonly liked (which was most likely the impetus for its distributor pouring the advertising money and energy into it as well as the reason for its continued perpetuation among fans in the first place). Although a lot of fans would claim that the "liked" part of this doesn't apply to some of the more widespread titles out there because they don't like it, the modifier "commonly" cannot be overlooked. We all have been put in a situation where we cannot imagine why a popular series has legions of fans because we in particular find it boring or otherwise not satisfactory.

Now that I've taken up sufficient time answering the first half of your question, I'll try to keep the second part as short as possible. When I'm looking at popular titles that I'm unfamiliar with, I can't help but bring bias into that, and I'm not proud to admit that since it sometimes prevents me from seeing good titles and sometimes makes me waste time on sub-par ones. Based on what I've explained above, there are two ways things usually go for me. First, if the title is shounen or maybe even slice of life, I normally tend to think that the the title is popular because to relies on tired old archetypes, themes and motifs that I've seen before and don't wish to see again, especially for 100+ episodes. The problem with this thinking is that even if a series does rely on these formulae, they can be executed exceptionally and make for a great title. I mean these things became popular and over-used in the first place because they worked right? On the other hand, if the title is say, more "mature", I'm usually inclined to think the exact opposite; the title must have something unique and different that broke with convention and therefore has somehow earned its popularity. Sometimes of times this works out, sometimes I get disappointed. That's just me though :)

Alex informed me that his response is "heavily cut down," but there's still a ton of stuff to digest:

Popularity, in regards to anime, in my understanding of the English speaking, I presume largely North American, fanbase; is very hard to define. It typically amounts to what I observe is most often referenced (On where? The “internet,” I suppose), or as an assessment of whether or not the anime has popular features (which I will later define, not that it unmuddles the issue). However, when pressed, I find that my understanding what precisely “popular” means is more intuitive than factual; whether or not a series is popular usually seems to amount to little more than if I feel it is, and has little to do with any concrete evidence of the general consensus. I think it was very poignant when you labelled popularity as a “fleeting” and “useless” thing in the last Answerman article, and especially relevant to this week's question was how your comment pertained to the specificity of the anime fanbase. It is not exactly comparable to a more prevalent definition of “mainstream.” In my view, the anime fanbase is also particularly fragmented, despite its supposed unity when referenced. Personally, I always saw anime as a medium, not the genre it is often assumed as, which to me why this is the case; however, arguments can certainly be made for it being a medium that has consistent narrative features across genres which creates a overlap among those who consume it, which I subscribe to at least in part. While I do not subscribe to the larger idea that popularity is entirely fleeting and useless as you mentioned, as I think that what is “popular” can be a very fascinating and persistent, and not “fleeting,” expression of culture when considered critically; the anime fanbase may not be large enough, or unified enough, for me to produce any useful conclusions that can be generalized. Either for selecting material for personal preferences, or for making assertions about the tastes of the “average” anime fan.

In any case, when I say a anime is “popular” to whomever I wish to make the case to (not a case I often make, I must admit), it implies a certain type of narrative style, which is often straightforward, and easy to understand; at least on the surface. At its best, simple and refined; at its worst, simplistic. I also assume a certain type of quality. The piece is usually polished, with its elements, often both visual and narrative, typically streamlined. Lastly I consider the prevalence of its reference by the general anime watching community (which, again, I must stress that I am not confident in precisely what that is). While prevalence is the most important feature in me handing out the label (it is “popular” for “populous” after all), I find it least important in whether or not I feel a series should have that label. For example, I may never understand, beyond making certain superficial observations, why The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has the popularity that it does; while I like the series, its chopped up plot with its unusual and extravagant elements violates my assumptions of streamlining. Regardless, prior knowledge of a series' popularity does affect my expectations. Moreover, I expect to like it. I assume that if a series has reached a certain frequency of reference, it at least means that it's enjoyable to most. Seeing as I consider myself a regular sort of person, among this “most,” the odds look good for me at least not hating the show. I see the label of popularity as a potentially useful sorting tool, a sort-of litmus test of general and generalized likability. All things equal, if two series seem similar, but one is "widely" well received, then I'll prioritize that one for viewing with the expectation that I am more likely to have fun with it. Unfortunately experience has taught me that this is not always the case, and more than occasionally so. For some examples, I despised Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, though I very much enjoyed the first anime series. I found Neon Genesis Evangellion far too unfocused and unpolished, almost to the point of making it unwatchable, regardless of the subject matter it occasionally delved into; but, it is seen as a quality artistic work and a staple of the “genre;” both of anime in general, and of the sub-category of mecha. While I understand why these mentioned series are “popular,” and see those reasons as perfectly valid, they still provided examples to me of when the label breaks down in my attempts to use it for my viewing habits. For a more useful (atleast, for my purposes) definition of popular I sometimes try to parse anime fans among their various kinds (categories so ill-defined that I dare not share my criteria, assuming I could produce it in a sensible way), and see what's popular within those groups as a method of seeking titles. That seems to work for me, more so than looking at a more general understanding.

In short, in an answer that was anything but: I tend to, when all things are equal, assume I am more likely to enjoy a popular show; with the definition of what is popular possibly changing depending on my understanding of the intended audience, as the anime fanbase may not be unified enough or large enough within its various factions to have a practical definition I can use. I will assume a popular show will be streamlined, and be consistent in its use of narrative devices. These assumptions may be in spite of my experience to the contrary, but it is not so out of line I see a need to drop these assumptions entirely. At the end of the day, though it goes without saying: ones should always like or dislike a work for their own reasons, regardless of any conception of its widespread dissemination. Popularity can be a useful tool for seeking a safe bet, if properly defined for ones own use, but it is by no means a tool for appraisal.

There's an evil part of me that wishes to challenge Sarah's impartiality with a copy of, I dunno, Arcade Gamer Fubuki:

Popularity of anime is a tricky thing with me, and how one values it's importance in watching a new series also depends on the definition of popular you have. Oftentimes I find myself watching an anime because a friend recommended it to me, not because tons of people are into it. True, there are some titles that you just hear about all the time, and I'll break down and watch them just so I can understand what all the fuss is about. But generally what I consider most important is the consistency of response to the anime itself, not just the sheer number of people who have seen it.

If you'll allow me to elaborate that last statement for just a moment, I'd be so grateful. There is one anime that I watched that some of you may have heard of called Death Note (please note my sarcasm, I'm pretty sure most of us know what Death Note is). I consider it to be popular because not only have I heard a vast number of people sing it's praises, I have seen people in equal parts tear it to shreds.

Popularity doesn't only mean you're liked, it can also mean you're disliked as well.

Thankfully I watched Death Note before anyone could push their opinion on me so I was able to make my own opinion on it in do time, but I digress. On the flip side, before I watched FMA, everyone was telling me what a masterpiece it was. Going into it, I was excited to find out why they were so passionate. I was excited because not a single person I talked about it with thought it was bad. In my mind, that general consensus meant that even as different as all we humans are, there are certain things we can agree upon, and that holds great significance in my mind.

So to me, it doesn't matter if a thousand people have watched an anime or just five, I want to hear what they have to say about it and then make my own judgments.

A fairly impartial watcher of anime

Samora just reminded me that I've never seen an episode of Fairy Tail, despite its popularity. Lookit me, the anti-establishment scamp!

There used to be a time, after I had finished Konjiki no Gash Bell that I decided not to go with popular choices when I decided to find more anime to watch. It didn't exactly last long however because my first two actions towards this completely defeated the purpose: When the generation 4 games of Pokemon came out I bought Pearl instead of the more likely to be bought Diamond, and I decided not to jump into Naruto given its popularity here in the states. They both fail obviously because I'm still playing Pokemon; a popular game franchise, and I wound up making my second anime One Piece, which not only turned out to be in this imaginary section called 'the big 3' but also turned out to be a mega hit in Japan.

Time passes, I'm at my 6th year of being an anime/manga/LN fan and as far as I'm concerned: being popular is just what it is, a lot of people like it. I didn't grow a disdain for anything popular, while the fanbase has a tendency to piss me off, I still love and enjoy One Piece, and I have enjoyed other popular titles such as FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Haruhi Suzumiya, and such, and I have things I don't like anymore that are popular such as Bleach and Fairy Tail. But at the end of the day all that really matters is did I like the show and whether its popular or not doesn't really effect my opinion on it. It may make me curious to go check it out like with Madoka Magica when I SERIOUSLY needed to know why so many people were raving over this magical girl show, but that's all it.

The only other thing I think about popularity is that it can influence how long a show runs or if it has second seasons and etc. Even if it'll be another 9 or 10 years I don't think I'll have to worry about seeing that pirate saga end abruptly, and I will always be sad that there will never be a season 2 of My Ordinary Life, as its animated over the top nature always put a smile on my face. But even then I like to leave it off as factual knowledge rather than flying off the mouth saying "series X doesn't deserve its popularity, series Y is soooo underrated!" I could go on with that, but I think that's a question I'll toss at you some other time.

Who's to say there's no psychological tomfoolery in Black Butler, Alex? Maybe the sexy men are the ULTIMATE in psychological tomfoolery and cranial buffoonery!

To me, it's not so much the bulk of popularity that influences my choice of what to watch, but the groups with whom an anime is popular. For example, I have never watched Black Butler. The reviews are all good, and it may yet be an interesting series, but every time I hear someone I know recommend it to me, the recommendation always ends in, "And Ciel/Sebastian is so hot! Squee!" I'd rather not be lumped in with those kind of crazy fangirls. On the other hand, I still pretend to like Serial Experiments Lain for the interesting psychological tomfoolery, even though I didn't understand a second of it. I know, it seems strange for an anime fan to be concerned about what others think when I sew my own cosplay, blast anime music while cleaning my dorm room, and occasionally wearing lolita dresses even though I'm a guy, but I want at least some semblance of respect for my intellect amongst my peers, if nothing else. I can get that easier by being a little bit hipster-ish, and if that excludes a few anime from what I'll watch, so be it.

And lastly, I think jymmy sums it all up neatly and simply, which is how I like to end things:

The idea of judging by popularity invites the question: popular among whom? Now, Naruto, Bleach and One Piece are some of the most popular series around, but their popularity is generally confined to people whose judgement I would not be inclined, no offence to any fans, to trust. An anime popular among critics or, god forbid, elitists, however, I would be much more inclined to check out. Sure, I've disagreed with popular consensus among educated fans and critics. Clannad, for example, is possibly my least favourite anime of all time - but that's just a subjective reaction. I was probably spoiled by the hype, but that made me hate the show, not think it's bad.

I'll always give popular series a look (or, more likely, their source material when possible), but that's more to do with wanting to keep up with fandom. When it gets right down to it, unless I'm looking up series that are considered "worth watching" (typically classics or examples of a certain genre), when I stumble across a series that looks interesting I judge more on quality. I'm most interested in how good a series is, regardless of whether or not eight out of ten people say so or whether eight hundred out of a thousand people say so. The popularity of a series increases its likelihood of appearing on my radar is all.

Great answers, guys. I think we've almost nailed this whole popularity problem. Until that day, look below! I wrote another question to spur your brains' innards to think and pontificate, and it's about localizations!

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 been Answerman for this week, so stay strong until I return again! Make sure to email me your questions, kind words, and stark Answerfans replies to my little slice of email Heaven at answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! Take care, everyone!

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