Hey, Answerman! - Think Of The Childrenby Brian Hanson,
Hey, ladies and gents! Welcome back from Christmas and to the warm glow of Hey, Answerman!
Since we're in that awkward week in between Christmas and the new year, I thought I'd give some un-asked-for thoughts on this holiday's big movies, because I've seen almost all of them and I need to force my opinion down the throats of unsuspecting readers. Here they are in alphabetical order!
Anna Karenina: Joe Wright made Hannah, one of my favorite recent movies, so hearing that he went all stylistically bonkers with Anna Karenina gave me hope for something exciting. Nope! This is a dross, jumbled, weird boring mess.
Django Unchained: Zac called this "A big 'eff you' to the notion of the Antebellum South" and I completely agree. It's great in all the ways other Tarantino movies are great. The performances are easily the best part of the movie. DiCaprio's Calvin Candie is a great, snarling villain of the slimiest order, and his section of the film is SO GOOD it overshadows the rest of the film.
The Hobbit: I'm with the general consensus on this one: A perfectly entertaining, if bloated, adventure. The 48fps projection is a lot better than you'd worried about.
Les Miserables: Do you love musicals? Do you love odd dutch angles at inappropriate times? Do you love shaky-cam and uneven cutting, causing a sense of disorientation? Do you love the bombast of Les Mis but wish it was shot in a way that confusingly jumbles its grandiosity? Go see Tom Hooper's Les Miserables!
Life of Pi: Stunningly photographed spiritual hullabaloney.
Lincoln: This is a great movie by a veteran director, featuring veteran actors, written by a veteran writer, all turning in superlative work that doesn't call attention to itself.
Silver Linings Playbook: This movie is God-damn frustrating, because you can see glimpses of the mad genius David O. Russell that made I Heart Huckabee's, but it has a STUPID AWFUL COPOUT ENDING done by the David O. Russell that made The Fighter.
Skyfall: Awful song, really cool movie.
This is 40: A very funny movie, though the uncomfortable moments of honesty aren't quite as brutal as they were in, say, Funny People.
There's a couple Oscar Bait-y movies that haven't shown up yet, like The Sessions, and of course Zero Dark Thirty, which I'm dying to see but won't expand nationwide until mid-January. Anyway. You have some questions, I understand:
I am 14 and I have a question, I noticed that a lot of people I know usually saw and learned about manga\anime from Shonen Jump or bought box sets of shows like Dragonball Z and looked into the other shows advertised. But now Shonen jump is only online and TV networks like Cartoon Network have less, if any anime on them, but Toonami's back on at least. To me, it looks like that without these type of things, it could be harder to introduce anime\manga to the younger generation and I ask you, with less of the younger generation getting into or knowing about anime\manga affect the sales and market for anime\manga long after someone like you is gone?
Now, I know a lot of old-timers are going to feel naturally upset about this - but maybe the way that younger kids are exposed to manga and anime is going to change, and maybe that's a good thing.
"B-but how will these kids know the pure, unfettered joy of rushing home from school to watch Dragon Ball Z?!? How will they know the thrill of picking up a magazine filled with manga at the bookstore?!?"
Here's the thing: let's give these "kids" some credit. They're just as comfortable watching YouTube and Netflix on their phones and computers and video game systems as we were, growing up, watching whatever linear cable channel deemed worthy of our attention. And their options with those entertainment venues are instantaneous and numerous. That means, now there's fewer bottlenecks and roadblocks preventing certain manga and anime from being enjoyed by these kids. KIDS THESE DAYS just need to fire up their Xbox and load up Hulu Plus to watch an episode of InuYasha, instead of waiting until 11:30 at night for it to show up on Adult Swim. KIDS THESE DAYS can fire up their iPad to read the latest chapter of Bleach, instead of waiting a month for the magazine to show up in the mail or their now-faded Borders bookstore.
So, the content delivery has certainly improved - but what's this about "exposure"? You mean, how do we force these kids to watch anime and manga in the first place? That's an interesting proposition. And the thing is - nobody's figured it out yet. I mean, all around. Nobody's yet figured out a way to ensure that people must watch a certain series or movie on a streaming service or iPad app. Expensive, huge ad campaigns certainly don't work. The best way, as always, comes from simple social interaction.
Ah, that's the stuff - Facebook, Twitter, you name it. I think that's the future of exposing anime and manga to a new generation. Now, companies like Funimation and so forth obviously maintain a relatively large presence on those services, but obviously they can't go forth and spam each and every potential viewer with ads for shows they think they'll like. That job, my 14-year old friend, relies on you.
Soon enough, there will be a generation of kids for whom their entire entertainment diet will be completely digital and 100 percent on-demand. That fact has got to make established entertainment producers and comic publishers crapping in their pants. When it comes to "niche" markets like anime and manga, mainstream penetration has always been a major sticking point, and with magazines and cable outlets going away, it seemed for a time as though the market was doomed to shrink. I don't feel that way. I think it's as ripe as ever to spread across the internet to a whole new generation of youngsters who have no qualms with watching cartoons and reading comics on their computers and PS3s and iPhones. And I think the first part of that wave is going to come from ordinary folks - just like you, dear teenaged reader.
Social networking has democratized the internet in several fascinating ways, especially in the way that it can now tailor our recommendations for entertainment. We can all browse our Facebook friend list and check out their favorite movies and TV shows and books. Spotify will tell me all of the embarrassing songs my friends are listening to on repeat, and some I'm inclined to check out for myself. I think that's the secret sauce here.
Of course, cracking that nut in any feasible, monetizing way is going to take time and some serious cojones, so good luck to the Funimation's of the world who are trying to figure that out. Meanwhile dude, just keep telling your friends that anime and manga is a cool thing and list off all the easy ways to enjoy it. Because even though you can't flip through a magazine or watch Cartoon Network to find it anymore, it's easier than ever to share.
Recently, I got some flak from a fellow fan for downloading Mawaru Penguindrum last year, when I tried to tell them it was an example of piracy being "justified", as it were.
I downloaded Mawaru Penguindrum, and I enjoyed it so much, I imported the Japanese BluRays. Since then, I've bought two COSPA and two Penguin Parade T-shirts that were licensed Penguindrum merchandise. I also purchased a Nendoroid and a figma of the Princess of the Crystal from the show, and both a Good Smile Company scale figure and a Kotobukiya scale figure. I also have the DVD and BluRay version from Sentai Filmworks pre-ordered.
The response that I was met with was essentially, "You still harmed the company by downloading the show."
There was no other way for me to view the show other than waiting over a year, and I can say with no shadow of doubt that if I had not downloaded this show, there is an extremely extremely overwhelming chance that I would have never bought it.
Well, perhaps these people you're referring to could've handled things a bit more tactfully; but I agree. Piracy is never, ever "justified." It isn't. Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving child? That's justified, sure. Downloading an .mkv from a torrent site? Nah - I can't really think of any life-or-death situation where that'll be justified. Unless there's some sort of madman holding you hostage in some sort of Saw movie scenario where the only way to avoid having a metal spike being driven into your genitals is to download a Penguindrum fansub from a torrent site, there's really no one-hundred-percent ethical and moral way to "justify" piracy.
Here's the deal, once more: it would be foolish and stupid for me to say "don't ever ever ever pirate things, it's bad." People will still pirate things, forever. My personal thing is - do not try to rationalize it or justify it. Importing those Blu Rays and buying the merchandise is awesome, but it doesn't white out that download from your conscience. What you did was what everyone else does: you downloaded a fansub because it was the easiest and best way to watch it. That's all. I don't begrudge you or anyone else for doing that. That makes sense to me. Because that's simple human nature. If there's a way to get something we want with minimal effort, that's what we'll do. It's not even about money, really - importing a Blu Ray not only takes money, but tremendous amounts of time. A download for a 22-minute episode will take about ten minutes. Whatever, man. That all makes sense.
But I cannot abide people "justifying" that as some sort of moral victory. "WELL I WOULD'VE ACQUIRED IT LEGALLY IF I COULD'VE." I'm sure you would, but you didn't. You can't prove an impossibility. It is a textbook example of a false positive paradox. And if there's anything I hate more in the world, it's paradoxes! Arrgh! Specifically, people trying to use logic to defend something even though that exact logical fallacy has been proven to be incorrect for eons.
Now, I've written more about piracy since taking over this column than I ever expected to in my life; it's one of those "issues" that is omnipresent and always on people's minds, hence why everyone wants to ask about it. So I'll say this: Don't look to me to try and "justify" your download. I won't do that, because I think it is, in fact, impossible to do that. And I'm not even saying that your download is necessarily evil! At this point, the fact that people still download stuff is just this inert fact - any words I write about whether or not people pirate things are meaningless. I'm not going to change anyone's mind on the subject. But I'm also not going to be the guy who validates what is and isn't "acceptable" piracy. I don't think there's any such thing.
Now, there's certainly "convenient" piracy, such as you were describing with Penguindrum - with no easily-accessible English version available, you turned to the only option available to watch it. Sure, whatever man. You and thousands of other people did the same thing. Unlike those thousands of other people, you made sure to "support" the show by buying DVDs and merchandise, and you've got the R1 releases pre-ordered. More of that, please.
So, how's about this folks: don't try to "justify" downloading stuff. Who cares, honestly. If you're trying to "justify" what you're downloading, you feel guilty in some way - and that is certainly admirable, because it means you care in some way about reimbursing the original creators. And if you need to "justify" your download, do it like the original poster did. Maybe you don't need to import the DVDs or anything, but you certainly should "support" the series however you can. More of that, less of the wasted dialog on the internet trying to defend your moral position on downloading something.
Hey Answerman, here's a question you may actually not have gotten before:
I was thinking recently about some of the editing Cartoon Network and Toonami subjected their programming to, and one way or another if Japan might do something similar. I realized this when I was taking a good look at Naruto (as well as some other Shonen Jump/shounen action series) and realized that I don't think Naruto's ever killed anyone (at least in the sizeable chunk of episodes I saw before I lost interest)... which is odd, because he's a ninja. Isn't assassination a big part of what they do, historically? It seems the more I thought about it the more I saw patterns in other stories in the genre: DBZ for instance. Despite being filled with manly muscle men with power beyond comprehension, Goku really doesn't kill anyone ever in the story lines I've seen. Usually, killing blows are delivered by whatever anti-hero is close by: Picollo killed Raditz, Vegeta killed Nappa, and Frieza killed himself kinda if I'm remembering right. Full Metal Alchemist also seems to follow this pattern.
Of course there are counter examples: Gohan killed Cell for instance. However, every time the hero delivers the final blow, it seems like the enemy has to be something inhuman in form and obviously evil: Cell for example was a giant bug man-monster. Its been a while, but I kind of find myself doubting that there's ever been a clear instance of Naruto outright killing someone without the same rules applying (that the enemy has to be inhuman in form and undoubtedly evil).
I guess my question is this: are there strict guidelines in Japan regulating who is allowed to take a life and under what circumstances (for different genres)? Or am I just imagining things? Do the guidelines extend to anything else beyond killing?
Nope, you're imagining things. There are guidelines by the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly to protect minors from manga featuring "sexual intercourse and other unlawful sexual behavior," but when it comes to violence? That's all self-regulated by whichever publication prints it.
Of course, when we're talking about Shonen Jump, you have to understand that they also published Fist of the North Star and Jojo's Bizarre Adventure - two of the most violent manga ever created. Naruto and Goku don't kill people, but Kenshiro certainly does. By the thousands. The violence level there is mostly up to the individual creators, and how they best wish to portray their characters. Of course, like any other publication, there is a "Standards & Practices" committee that oversees the general content of the magazine, but violence is one of the things that Shonen Jump is usually pretty lenient on.
In the case of Naruto and Dragon Ball Z, the reason you don't see any of the main characters take a life is pretty much the same reason most of the villains in Disney movies fall to their death offscreen, rather than killed triumphantly by the heroes. It's because we want our protagonists to remain pure. Even if it were justified, we'd rather not have blood on the hands of our favorite, pure-hearted characters. Given that Goku and Naruto themselves function as, essentially, the moral compass of their respective worlds, it makes narrative and thematic sense for them to avoid any sort of bloodshed, no matter how dicey things get.
And in the case of Dragon Ball Z, "death" is sort of meaningless anyway - that show has this warped version of the afterlife, and characters who "die" may or may not stay dead for very long. Sort of a cheat, in a way. You can raise the stakes of the story by taking lives left and right, but the Dragon Balls can literally resurrect people in an instant to maintain the status quo.
It's pretty much the same story here in the West, too. People always blamed the FCC for cuts and edits made to anime series when they aired on cable television here, but that was never true - the FCC's regulations never extended beyond broadcast television to cable; rather, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and every other cable channel targeted towards kids has their own "Standards & Practices" department that goes over each and every piece of content that they air in order to deem what is and isn't "appropriate" for their audience. In the case of older Toonami, the subject of death itself was a no-no - characters could threaten to "destroy" each other, but never to "kill." Even in the older days of Adult Swim there were some issues - the original run of Trigun edited out certain shots of guns being pointed at peoples' heads, for instance, as they were deemed to "intense" for a TV-14 rating. All by the network's own Standards & Practices department.
So, no, the reason that Naruto doesn't take a life isn't some sort of "mandate" by any governing agency or ordinance. Of course, behind the scenes, there could be a strict Shonen Jump editor demanding these things, but that's just conjecture, and also just as much part of the creative process as anything. And considering how crazy and violent the rest of the manga can be - what with its beheadings, stabbings, and numerous eviscerations - it's clear there's certainly a lax atmosphere when it comes to depicting bloodshed. The delicate handling of murder on behalf of the protagonist is strictly a creative one, not a corporate one.
Alright, folks! This Christmas, I'm sure a lot of you opened up actual, physical things from wrapping paper, so in that spirit, I wanted you fine friends to wistfully think of some physical objects you'd like to purchase in 2013:
We'll start with Haley, and don't worry - I'm not going to nitpick about the date like that, I'm cool:
So, does something that didn't start in 2012 but continued in 2012 count? Maybe? I'll operate as if it does, because there's one manga series that has yet to be released in the US (despite being licensed not once, but twice) that kills a tiny part of my soul every time I remember we still don't have it in the USA.
World Embryo. For the love of Eru and all of his Ainur, World Embryo. I hooted and hollered the first time it was licensed by TokyoPop. I was even more ecstatic when the license ended up falling into Dark Horse's hands instead. I had literally set aside cash for preordering the first volume as soon as it was announced. I was checking RightStuf and ANN constantly for news that the release date had been announced.
Then came the waiting. And more waiting. And then the unfortunate news that some sort of issue was preventing the series from coming out. And then... nothing.
This isn't to nitpick on Dark Horse, since I know these sorts of things happen sometimes, but it's really, really unfortunate in my eyes. I'm a huge fan of Daisuke Moriyama, and I feel like World Embryo shows an incredible amount of growth for him as a storyteller, particularly when it comes to pacing the plot and knowing when to reveal his hand and when to play it close to his chest. I've been gripped by the story and world from the beginning, and now that I've mostly given up on the series coming to our shores in the near future I'm importing the volumes from Japan so I can at least give back to the mangaka. But I'm not importing the English volumes from Australia. Why? Because there's still a small part of me that hopes it'll eventually come out and I'll be able to support the series when it's released in the US. I can dream.
Or I can possibly offer myself up as a virgin sacrifice. Seriously, I'll throw on a white dress and everything. We can play The Rite of Spring, it'll be great.
YuYang BUSTS THAT ANSWER OUT:
One singluar title from 2012 that deserves a full-on western release? The answer, in my opinion, is Little Busters. One of the reason is because its a Key product, though it is not produced by KyoAni. However, the story itself is a good mix of comedy and drama, as well as the splash of fantasy and intrigue that comes with any Key product. Overall, I feel that the story itself is very good, the characters are very diverse and memorable, and the gimmicks in the anime, like using the VN sprites in the previews, are awesome.
Don't worry, J. - I know a certain someone named Bamboo Dong who would join you in the chorus:
I hope that I'm not the only one who would put Chihayafuru at the top of the list of anime which deserve a Western release. I understand why people might shy away from this. But it is not an anime about karuta, a Japanese card game, it's about students who play karuta. There is a reason why ANN readers rank it in the top 2% of anime (#65 out of 4076 as of this letter). Even without knowing the intricacies of the game, viewers get caught up in the excitement generated by the players.
No disrespect to other companies, but I really hope NIS America picks this up as a release. They could price it for a smaller audience, and a hardcover art book that explains some of the basics of karuta would be fantastic.
Steve, if I had a quarter for every time somebody answered with YKK, I'd have like, three or maybe four quarters:
I had been hoping for a QOTW like this since I started reading your column. Upon reading the question, my mind raced, and I shouted, "yes!". While I tend toget more miffed about anime or manga that get partial or botched Western releases, ones that have never even properly reached the West still tug at my aching, paranoid otaku heart. I think my brain is telling me there is some correlation (which I realize is completely untrue), in if my question gets picked, the anime/manga I choose will have better chances of being released in the West (I wish!). While there is at least half a boatload of titles I could say, one comes to my mind that really fits the DESERVED part of the question.
The Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou manga.
I first heard of this manga in a previous Answerman column, and I was intrigued. A concept I thought was unique, a nice design, and plenty of acclaim to boot. I checked out the two OVAs they made. While they were enjoyable, they just felt like small pieces of a much larger tale. I wanted to know the rest of that tale. I refuse to read scanalations, not for my legal dignity, but more because I don't want to read 14 volumes hunched over at my computer. I want to enjoy the series when I want, where I want. Like at a cafe in the countryside... yeah, you know what I'm talking about! I would probably blind buy it all if it ever got a Western Release, or at least blindly save up my money until I could afford every volume. It's in the site's top ten manga, that has to mean something... right? RIGHT!?!!?
Spread that word, Adam, TAKE MY ADVICE FROM MY EARLIER COMMENTS:
If there's one Anime I'd LOVE to see get a legitimate physical Western release, it's Girls und Panzer. I'm quite enjoying this show for its endearing cast, simple yet effective story (I'll even say it reminds me of the whole underdog sports team movie genre), and tank action, despite some relatively mixed reaction from anime fans. In fact, not only do I hope for a Western DVD and Blu-Ray with an English dub, but maybe even a spot on TV, maybe on Toonami, Vortexx, Neon Alley, or some other network. The word really needs to be spread about this show.
Lastly, here's VZMk2, who is unnaturally direct:
That's easy. YURU YURI!!
I'm a fan of a anime and I'd I've love to see the manga get an English language release. Maybe Yen Press could license that (hint hint). The anime needs an R1 release too!
Thanks again, everyone. So! What'll the first question of 2013 be? Read on! HINT: It's inspired by the first 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.
Thanks again for all the great content you guys keep giving me, week in and week out! Keep that train going by sending me any and all questions, comments, answers, and hatred to my humble email home at answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com! Have a safe and happy New Years, Answerpeople!
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