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Hey, Answerman! - Knowledge Basement

by Brian Hanson,

Hey everyone! Welcome back to Hey, Answerman!

Remember last week when I was all "HEY I LIKE MY WII U IT'S PRETTY FUN, ADD ME ON THE MIIVERSE THING" and I was all happy about stuff? Ha ha!

Almost immediately after posting last week's column, my Wii U starts biting it. Hard. We're talkin' software locking up (even the System Settings!) and the console itself refusing to power on 7 out of 10 times. There's a lesson, kids: launch hardware is fun to get in order to feel a kinship with your nerd compatriots, but you're basically paying money to be a beta tester. I can't say I've enjoyed being a part of the initial failure rate.

Enough video games. Have at you!

Dear Brian,

Recently a friend gave me a list of titles that I should watch that differed from her normal recommendations, in the sense that she was of the opinion that they were all bad anime. Her insistence that I watch the ridiculous, gratuitous, and bountiful amount of fan service, dime a dozen characters, and bad animation, was simply because she believed wholeheartedly that I should know the worst of the worst, the shows dragged from the dungeon of near-universal hated anime. While I agree that there is something to be said for being educated about what you hate, are there a couple titles that you think everyone should see, either good or bad, to establish a base knowledge of anime?

I don't, uh... I don't think that's entirely a constructive use of one's time.

I don't think people are willingly watching crappy movies like The Room in order to have a tremendous "knowledge base" that they can use to measure the breadth of their cultural experience. I'm not going to make sure that people watch Paddy Pelican before they claim to have any moral high ground to judge what is good and bad in animation.

However, people are free to watch awful stuff like Paddy Pelican because it's completely amazing. Garzey's Wing is an always-entertaining nightmare of high ideas, horrifically executed. M.D. Geist is, uh... Actually, I can't think of a single nice thing to say about M.D. Geist. Sorry.

I think people should see as much of everything as possible, because life is short and the more we broaden our options as far as art is concerned, the more likely we are to have our minds blown by amazing stuff. And the more art we have in our lives, we are smarter and better for it. Sometimes - sometimes - the guise of "art" can mean watching something particularly wretched. There's at least one part of Genius Party that is completely awful.

But, I dunno, I don't necessarily see the point of watching a bunch of awful stuff just to say that you have. I'm not a better or worse person for having seen The Room. But! I had a lot of fun watching The Room with my friends in a packed theater, cracking jokes to one another! Watching bad stuff can be a lot of fun, but there's no use pretending it's for some higher cause other than "let's all be dicks and make fun of this godawful piece of garbage."

Hey, so I have been looking to purchase the NANA anime series ever since VIZ started releasing it in 2009. But because of the high prices of the individual releases, I decided to wait until they released a complete series box set. Now, in 2012 they still haven't released a box set and the individual volumes remain at an un-affordable price for me. I did notice, however, that Madman Entertainment did a complete series release for an affordable price, but since its region 4 its still of no use to me. Can you tell me why VIZ hasn't released a box set yet

- A person who wants to spend money on Anime

Well, for someone who "wants to spend money on Anime," you're sure splitting a lot of hairs about what to spend your money on. A 60 dollar 13-episode set is "un-affordable"? I mean, I know that 60 bucks isn't "cheap," but - I mean, Rightstuf is selling each of the 4 individual sets for a little under 40 apiece right now - Amazon's got 'em for around 30. I hate to be the guy who states the obvious, but 30 to 40 dollars for an 11-to-13 episode DVD boxed set is far from unreasonable.

But, I know - the idea of getting a cheaper boxed set, that includes every single episode, all for a great price - arrrgh! It's so frustrating that they get something cool like that, and yet it seems as though Viz has no plans to release something similar in the US! Those damned lucky Australians!

Well, well. How the tables have turned.

I'm gonna say - let the Australian anime fans have this one thing. Usually the scenario is reversed: us lucky yanks get all the good stuff super-cheap, thanks to Funimation and Sentai and crazy sales on Rightstuf and Amazon, while our good friends in Australia and Europe look at our bounty and weep with jealousy and bitterness. But now? Now it's their turn. Let's not take it away from them. They've earned it.

Besides: the 4 DVD sets being offered by Viz are, to repeat, *NOT* outrageous. And, calling them "individual volumes" is a little disingenuous. To my mind, anything that spans several discs and contains more than 10 episodes is a boxed set, in and of itself. Do not make me do the stereotypical old man voice and bring up subtitled VHS volumes of Escaflowne that had two episodes per tape and cost 35 dollars each, BACK IN THE DAY. Because I will.

If you truly "want to spend money on anime," the opportunity is right there for you. If you really want it. To be honest, it sounds like you maybe don't really want to spend money on anime. You just want to get the best deal. Fair enough: I already gave you the Righstuf and Amazon links, and there's several other online retailers that'll have copies in stock, potentially at lower prices.

Either way, I hate to say it, but you're going to have to buy those "individual volumes." Why would Viz bother repackaging and rereleasing a series when they've still got unsold inventory? And how will that unsold inventory be sold if people are constantly nitpicking and waiting for another, cheaper release? It's a bit of a Catch-22, sometimes. I don't think it's unreasonable, is all, to spend what the online retailers are asking. Buy it or don't, man.

Hey Answerman,

I was talking to someone at a con a few weeks ago and I mentioned that I'd been looking for a copy of The Story of Saiunkoku on DVD, which I was finding hard to find since it's out of print. I was shocked to hear he'd seen the title on a list of banned series. I've seen the series as fansubs (and have been trying to buy since) and I couldn't see anything in it that seemed offensive or warranting a ban. So I was curious if you know why it has been banned?

Yes! Whoever told you the series was "banned" is a filthy stinking liar or crazy person, because that isn't true. It is out of print and kind of expensive, yes - but that's the way it goes, especially for The Story of Saiunkoku, which was one of those weird Geneon orphans that was quickly siphoned into Funimation's release calender during Geneon's grand bloodletting.

Banned? No way, José. Certainly hard to find. Funimation's the people to talk to about getting it back someday, perhaps.

The lesson? Never trust what people tell you at cons. Unless they're one of us from ANN. Or from an anime publisher. Or a balding man eating a homemade baloney sandwich who calls himself "King Anime."

That one was too easy. Let's do one more!

Hello there Answerman!

Let's get straight to the point and forget the chit-chat: Why did anime back in the late eighties-early nineties have sound-effects in the openings. I just recently watched Gundam 0083 (which was very, very bad by the way) and it had some of the worst edited sound-effects in an opening I've ever heard, to the extend that the singer's voice actually drowned in all the explosions and bangs going on on the screen. Why did the Japanese think that using sound-effects during an opening animation was a good idea? I'm aware that they were also used here in the West, but to my knowledge only in the children's cartoons.

So can you elaborate this topic a bit more in detail? Thanks in advance.

Hey now, you still hear sound effects and other things in the opening animation to a few anime series. Inuyasha's first opening had them, I know that.

But, yeah, they're pretty uncommon now. I don't think there's any specific reason for it, other than the fact that - most anime OPs are fairly blatant commercials for popular music groups promoted by Japanese record labels. Japanese record labels that tend to have a say in the production committee. Or in some cases, own anime production companies outright - Aniplex is the result of a collaboration between Sony Pictures and Sony Music in the mid 90's. In other words, why sully the good music you're trying to sell alongside your latest hit anime series with lots of pointless sound effects to drown out the sweet, sultry vocals and sick guitar riffs?

As for why they thought it was a "good idea" in the first place, I - look, there's a lot of odd ideas going on here, and I can't possibly put myself in the proper frame of reference to list any of them as either "good" or "bad." They had... ideas. Most of those "ideas" involved warbling Baritone vocalists describing all the ways the good guy or robot person can kill and beat up bad guys.

Also Also: you seriously think the Gundam 0083 opening is "very, very bad"? How upset will you be at the notion of telling you that you are VERY WRONG and that the 0083 opening is actually REALLY COOL? God, that song is going through my brain right now, just tearing apart my neurons. "I GOTTA BURNIN' HEAAART" oh yeah.

But, yeah, maybe the sound effects were a little much. There's probably a reason you don't see that done very often anymore.

Ah, yes! Time for me to shut up for one stinking measly second and give the floor to you, the reader!

Last week, I wanted to whip everybody into a foamy lather of holiday cheer by giving us all a chance to celebrate the real Reason For The Season: UNFETTERED CAPITALISM!

Let's start with Sahara, who already can't help but gloat about her Christmas bounty:

Hey Answerman!

Rather than telling you what savings I'm looking for, I'm just going to brag about the nice little bundle deal I already got:

Thanks to RightStuf's AWESOME Black Friday sale, I managed to nab all three seasons of Aria for about a third of their asking price. It's a series that is worth every penny of the asking price, but it's so much sweeter knowing I got it for such a deal!

Now I'm just waiting to see what RightStuf puts on sale when their 12 Days of Christmas event rolls around. :-)

Everybody wish Chris good luck and Merry Christmas during his deployment!

The Fate/Zero Blu-ray box set 2 for starts is my treat to myself.

Being deployed as much as I am, I often find that if I wait until the last possible moment, Amazon and Rightstuf often have amazing deals.

Currently eyeing some old classics I need to pick up like Fafner and Hellsing, and then eyeing a new(er) series I've missed out on, up to and not limited to Steins;Gate, Freezing, Baka & Test....actually, it'll more be like a huge spending spree, seeing how much I can "add to cart" before my wallet starts screaming at me! And then gifts to others....either way, Amazon and Rightstuf, always kind to me.

Two copies of Skyrim? Yikes Joyce, that's a combined lifetime of elves and glitchy dragons:

Ah, the joys of scurrying through the ether nosing out bargains like little mice. I want so much I will have to be careful. At the top of my list sits the same title as is on many lists. I would settle for plain vanilla DVDs with no extras and a cheap case if I could find an affordable Madoka Magica. I really want the second season of Shakugan no Shana but am reluctant to pay the price and there are others as well so I will pin my hopes on Right Stuff's Twelve Days of Christmas though if the past is any indication I will spend too much. I didn't buy much anime last Christmas since I had to buy two copies of Skyrim but this year I hope to make it up. I just finished re-watching FMA Brotherhood and would like to find a reasonably priced DVD set for my son. He doesn't have BD so I can't loan him mine but why should DVD cost more than BD? I will nose around and see what I can find.

And that's all the bragging and wishing I got for that question. Hm. These past two Answerfans have been a little too... positive. Time to scale it back a bit and revel in something darker. I answered a patently untrue rumor that came from somebody at a convention - let's do something with that!

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.

Thanks guys, it's been great! I'll be out over the next week, visiting friends in the sunnier climes of Los Angeles, so I won't be around to take care of Answerman next week. So keep the fires in the Answerman building stoked with emails! Don't neglect to ask or answer anything of me, over at answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! See you all in a fortnight!

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