Hey, Answerman! - Fandoms of Evil

by Brian Hanson,

Happy weekend, Answer-peoples! This is Hey, Answerman! That weekly thing where you send me questions, I answer them with glib responses peppered with a little bit of research and elbow grease, and we all learn a little something or other.

In the meantime, I am no longer able to complain about the weather where I'm living, for two reasons. One, spring is in full effect, which, for my fellow east-coasters, means that it's actually quite beautiful. It's green, lush, and exceptional. Two, I'm moving in a little less than two weeks, so any complains I have will soon be rendered moot, as I will soon be living in the wilds of Los Angeles, and I'll be complaining a lot less about the weather, and complaining a lot more about the amount of cilantro that's being put on my sandwiches, or the amount of folks my own age bragging about their podcasts or pilot scripts.

Without further ado, let's hop into this week's crop of questionery!

Dear Answerman,

I realize this question sort of overlaps with your Answerfans question, but really my response to the whole Flowers of Evil controversy is a question. What is it about this particular show inspired such a vitriolic reaction? I mean, I can think of shows where there's been highly divisive reactions, ranging from Lucky Star to Panty and Stocking, but the difference in this case is that the people who don't like the show not only hate it, but hate it like it's the worst thing ever. Seriously, how does this thing end up almost at the bottom of MyAnimeList's rankings, below the likes of Oshiri Kajiri Mushi (if you want to talk about ugly animation...)? I've seen people be offended by it as being an "attack on moe", but it's not like this is the only non-moe anime out there.

The "insult to the manga" complaints don't make much sense either since the mangaka is on-board with the show and from what I can gather it's a very faithful adaptation aside from the art. The attacks on this show feel unfair and unprecedented. I'm relatively neutral leaning towards favorable at the moment; I actually think the supposedly "ugly" art is pretty cool-looking and I'm intrigued to see what happens next but I can't say with certainty I love the show yet after one episode, unlike the people who are quite vehemently certain in their hate after the same amount of time. The only reactions to any anime episodes I've seen which might match the reactions this has been getting have all been episodes later on in already popular series such as the last two Evangelion episodes and the 4th episode of Gurren Lagann, and let's face it, those did suck especially in comparison to the great material surrounding them. Can you recall a reaction like this to anything else?

Dude, there's a storied history of whiny fans revolting in terror and anger towards anything that takes a decidedly left turn from the norm. Considering the factory-like nature of the way that anime is produced, it's far rarer to see such divergent styles of art from an anime versus its source material, but ask any fan of popular American comic books and they'll tell you: any time an artist tries to "develop a new style" with pre-existing characters or stories, the fans can rally in violent opposition.

Here's a great article on Comic Vine that discusses what I'm talking about. Things can get heated, ugly, and vile. The dust-up over the artistic direction of Flowers of Evil is small potatoes compared to the amount of fan outcry over visuals they take for granted. I'm sure there are die-hard One Piece fans who absolutely hate the unique visual style that Mamoru Hosoda created for the characters with his One Piece Movie.

The difference is, though, is that a lot of the people who are angry about the style of the Flowers of Evil anime are the fans of the manga, or the fans of the usual slightly-creepy slice-of-life High School drama it represents, who are simply... un-attuned to many other types of animation. It's not just that the animation is rotoscoped; if it was CGI, they would be enraged. If it was super-cartoony looking, they would feel betrayed. Even if it was a lushly-produced and expensive production by displaced Disney artists, they would be upset. Because, quite frankly, Flowers of Evil is basically pre-sold to that audience.

Every season, there are dozens of blandly identical adaptations of High School manga. They rarely deviate from the source material in any significant way. Much of them basically exist using the original manga as storyboards, and pad things out to 12 episode length. Those fans have dealt with shows like that for the past decade; when they heard that Flowers of Evil was being made into an animated series, I'm sure it was assumed that the anime would follow the exact same template. Why wouldn't it? The fans would tune in, they'd like it, and then they'd turn on something else exactly like it when it was over.

But, in a measure of artistic experimentation in a staid genre that I wholeheartedly appreciate, the producers of Flowers of Evil over at Zexcs knew that the show would probably be buried under a mountain of similar-looking titles without an exceptional hook. They tried something. Whether or not they were successful at it is up to personal taste. But what I want people to look at is the sheer balls it takes to attempt something creative, interesting, and potentially divisive, within the framework of a purely commercial product. A lot of my personal problems with "moe" shows is that they simply look boring. Flowers of Evil never looks boring at all; it's unsettling, it's unnervingly realistic, and it gives it a distinct edge and atmosphere that's completely different from every other anime that's set in a Japanese High School.

I've been obsessing over Hollywood film in the 70's again, after watching an old documentary on Stanley Kubrick, and a lot of what made those legendary 70's films and filmmakers exceptional is exactly what I'm talking about. So-called "Old Hollywood" was failing, and was being bought up by conglomerates from outside sources; Gulf & Western bought Paramount, News Corp. bought 20th Century Fox, and so on. It was the perfect confluence of events to allow a group of ecstatic, and slightly insane, young filmmakers to use the studio's expensive toys to make multi-million dollar movies in new ways. I mean, "Jaws" is nothing more than a 50's-style Creature Feature at its core. What made it successful, and a great film, is the craftsmanship, the acting, and the superb script. There's no reason anime can't be the same way.

And, look, I'm not saying that Rotoscoping is my favorite thing in the world, either. Anyone who's seen Ralph Bakshi's Fire & Ice can attest to this. Rotoscoping has that eerie "Uncanny Valley" feel to it. Whether or not you think that compliments Flowers of Evil - I personally think it does - is, of course, your own opinion. It's not incorrect to dislike how it looks. What is incorrect is to presume that there is only one way to style and animate a manga adaptation. That's an atavistic attitude that leads to so many recidivist and forgettable anime, each and every season, that exist without any clear point of view, or artistry, or intrinsic value. What I'm saying is, as supposed "fans," we shouldn't get up in ****ing arms about people taking creative risks. To be honest, Flowers of Evil wasn't even on my radar of stuff to watch when I read the synopsis; when I saw my Twitter feed blow up with all kinds of invective and discord, I knew something was up. I *knew* that they must've tried something interesting, if not entirely successful, to get people this mad.

We should be applauding people for taking creative risks, even when they're not exactly "necessary." Flowers of Evil could've gotten a thrown-together adaptation with flatly-animated characters that looked like they were Xeroxed from the pages of the manga, and it would've been considered "fine" and I would probably never have even noticed it. Instead, the crew at Zexcs tried something unique, pissed a lot of people off, and in the middle of the fracas, caught *my* attention doing it. I'll consider that a success in its own right.

Hey, Answerman!

My lifelong goal is to have one of my stories to become an anime or manga. I wish to write for anime or manga in Japan, or at least create a light novel, have it translated into Japanese, and aim for it to become an anime or manga. How does someone like me, an everyday citizen of the United States, get started on achieving my goal?

Now, I know what you're saying. "Oh, no! Not another 'help me create my own anime' question!" But there's one thing that stuck out to me; the 'Light Novel' aspect. I honestly can't say I've ever seen anyone ask me about making their own "Light Novel" before.

I'm sure most of you already know this, but for those that don't: "Light Novels" are called such because they're meant to be, well, light. Breezy, entertaining, pleasuring reads that don't necessarily upset or challenge their readers. Here in America, we call that "Best-selling fiction."

It seems like you've already got the two elements necessary to begin working on your own personal "Light Novel," which is, a brain, and a computer. So, by all means, get to work and start writing. If that is, indeed, your actual "goal." Because if you really want to write an anime, then do that instead. If you want to create a manga, do that. Basically, you've got to choose. You can't necessarily bank on one thing turning into the other.

If you've got a cool idea for a story, then write it. There hasn't been any American renditions of "Light Novels" that have been adapted to Japanese anime, but I'm sure that can easily be broken. Anime has a storied history of adapting Western works of literature and pulp fiction for series and movies. I mean, E.E. "Doc" Smith wasn't exactly a household name in the West, but a few of his novels were popular; popular enough to make the jump overseas to Japan, where they were translated and eventually led to the big-budget Lensman movie.

In other words, don't do all three at once. That's insane, and will likely drive you to madness. If you truly are an "everyday citizen of the United States," you have as much of a chance of getting into a meeting with Japanese anime producers or manga editors as I have securing a meeting with David O. Russell. That would certainly be nice, but let's be realistic here. Nobody really knows who I am and what I have to offer the world of film and entertainment, and "they" certainly don't know who you are or what you're trying to accomplish.

But, there's also a silver lining there. Densha Otoko was developed from a series of 2ch posts. Lensman was based on a series of novels by a well-regarded sci-fi author that the general populace was unfamiliar with. Basically, if a story hits a certain nerve at the right time and at the right place, who knows? The next hit anime adaptation can (and most likely will) come from any variety of sources. Why not you and your light novel?

Of course, there's the little issue of the fact that you are an "everyday American" and unless major Japanese anime producers are scouring the internet for talented English-speaking writers (they aren't), You've got a pretty slim chance of getting noticed in any particular way by the people who produce and bankroll these projects. Luckily, there are plenty of options at your disposal, which are all freely available, to create damn near anything you want. The meteoric rise of crowdfunding websites has definitely altered the publishing landscape, for instance. And there's no shortage of places to share your work to the world.

So long as you keep on writing, who knows what will happen? I'd say, first and foremost, look at what I wrote above about style and taking risks. If all your "Light Novel" is is a pale retread of characters and situations that's been covered by anime past, that's not going to work. There's also the fact that you're not a Japanese citizen who is, more than likely, unfamiliar with the Japanese language. So, I offer these two pieces of advice.

Number 1: Write the best story you possibly can, in the medium you wish to use. If your end goal is to write an anime series, why bother with a Light Novel? Most Japanese writers who dabble in Light Novels don 't anticipate being lucky or successful enough to inspire an entire anime series; their main concern is simply with telling an engaging story with likable characters. The adaptation, which is most likely to be created by an independent staff of writers and directors with plenty of credits under their belt, may not necessarily be what the studios are looking for. So, again, pick and choose. Trying to do so many things at once will only obfuscate and confound the audience, if you're attempting to make an anime series and a light novel series simultaneously. Just focus on one or the other. The good stuff will come later.

The benefit of attempting to do a "Light Novel" as they are in Japan, versus attempting to enter the US publishing route, is this: Japanese fans have a very good track record of making successes out of self-published work, especially self-published work from outsider sources. I think Densha Otoko is probably the best example. There isn't as much of a stigma attached to self-publishing as there is in the US, where it's been abused by "vanity" publishers and madmen.

So, self-publishing is an option. Now, to get it in front of the hands and eyes of Japanese fans.

Number 2: Hire a translator. As good as your own "Light Novel" may be, no one in Japan is going to give it a serious glance if it is written in a foreign language. Neither will the Japanese public, or the directors. If you are truly serious about this, then realize that you'll need to find someone who can properly translate your ideas and characters to the anime fandom commune at large. Also, hiring an illustrator or two to add some images to the book would probably be a good idea. Once it's all together, secure a table at Comiket or something similar, and you'll be in business!

In other words, don't expect this to be cheap or easy. Expect to spend potentially tens of thousands of dollars to get this thing where, if I'm reading you correctly, you want it to be. I mean, "I'd like to make a successful Light Novel in Japan" is hardly the easiest thing to accomplish, even if you are living in the country. So now we come back to the point I always make when people ask me questions like this:

Just write it. Write it and re-write it, until it's so good, so complete, and so perfect that YOU are happy with it, and whatever happens, happens. Because you KNOW you wrote a good story, and the audience will find it, and they will appreciate it. Whenever or wherever that audience is. The nice thing about writing is that it's free. All you need is time. Publishing? Translating? Illustrating? Promoting? Those are ancillary concerns. Those have ZERO to do with actually crafting a great story. That's just marketing. Despite what the past two decades of advertising has told you, selling is not the same thing as storytelling.

Make a damn good story. Then figure out the rest. Alright, people? Sheesh!

Hi Brian,

I have a question about anime formats available out there, specifically iTunes/Amazon Instant Video and Physical Media(Blu Ray/DVD). In the interest of saving physical space, I've made the decision to:

a) stop buying DVDs and Blu Rays
b) start buying my anime and movies from iTunes
c) transfer all my DVD and Blu ray Contents into a digital format that I can just play in my Mac and Apple TV.

It has been a long and tedious process, but I've finally gotten all of my DVDs and Blu Rays ripped and saved up in my hard drive. I just started buying some titles from iTunes and bought Hellsing Ultimate (1-8) and Fairy Tail. They were good buys since they're fairly cheap and downloading them was very convenient. Now as I look at the other titles available, I've noticed that compared to the Blu Ray box sets, almost all of the same videos in iTunes are about TWICE the the cost of their Blu Ray counter parts (e.g. all 64 eps of FMA, iTunes = $128.96 vs Blu Ray = $64.98; Black Lagoon Season 1&2, iTunes = $49.98 vs blu ray = $28.40).

Do anime licensees like Funimation and Viz Media etc. make more money from iTunes and Amazon Instant Video purchases compared to physical media Blu Ray/DVD? I thought that not having the additional cost of packaging and discs would make the digital format from iTunes cheaper not more expensive. Do you see prices from iTunes and Amazon going down to be more competitive with Blu Ray? I can see the clear advantage from buying from iTunes if you're buying typical Hollywood movies since they do tend to be cheaper than the Blu Rays. But when buying multi-episode sets like in anime, the price advantage is clearly not there.

I wasn't too sure about all this either, since not much attention seems to ever be paid to the anime content that's up on iTunes or Xbox Live/Playstation Network. The way I figure it, there's probably only one person I know I can count on to straighten this out - one Justin Sevakis!

Justin: Per-episode, the anime companies definitely make more through pay-per-download companies like iTunes, Amazon and XBox Live. Typically, the storefront only takes about 30% of the purchase price, so that ends up being $1.40 per episode. Not too shabby.

The reality, however, is that not that many people are buying through these services, for a few reasons. First and foremost, the stores themselves are generally uninterested in selling subtitled series -- it's dubbed or nothing. Secondly, most of these services lack the manpower to deal with every little boutique rights holder that wants to put their shows up for sale. This forces smaller publishers to go through third party clearing houses, who require a share of the revenue and may or may not actually be all that good at getting their video up on the service (or reporting revenues after the fact). Most of them just don't bother.

And lastly, there's the price, which is pretty decent if you compare it to a new release DVD or Blu-ray, but don't get heavily discounted as physical media often does. (The store usually insists on setting the price at $1.99 per episode for everything.) Between all of those limitations, and the fact that a lot of people don't much care to pay for copy protected files, those services simply won't attract as many buyers as an actual physical release. Some people might use them to preview a series by buying just an episode or two, and then they move to a different format if they decide to take the plunge. The big exception are boob shows on XBox Live. I'm guessing those get purchased by 12-year-olds when their parents aren't looking.

Since iTunes is a notoriously hard nut to crack for the smaller publishers (and because of their distaste for subtitled shows), you're going to have a hard time replacing all of your physical media purchases with paid iTunes downloads. Unless dubs from Funimation and Sentai are all you buy. In that case, you're set.

Yup. I'm guilty of using those things to "preview" something - I rented the absurdly expensive Gundam Unicorn from the Playstation Store before I decided to make any sort of commitment to that sucking void of expensive imports. Glad I did! And speaking of imports, that gives me an idea for something that will come later...

Ah, yes! People, this is the time in the weekly Answerman foray wherein I, as the author, surrender my suffocating authorial voice in order to give YOU, the reader, the chance to shine in some mercurial fashion. Wherewith, I have posted a question of sorts from the previous week, and it was up to you lot to respond in kind. Here is the question that I threw into the aether, hoping for some elucidation!

Ah, that ties nicely with one of my questions this week, don't it? Let's start with Lynette, who echoes my statement about its attention-grabbing qualities:

In short, I think of the art as a really sweet bonus.

I'm very much a 'Character person,' if I like the characters enough, I'm willing to forgive a lot. If I love the characters, then they could be rendered as stick figures for all I care. That's not to say that the art counts for nothing mind you, the art is the first thing I look at when deciding which new anime I'm going to watch. My initial opinion on any series is ‘that looks nice’ or ‘that looks really fugly’, however, whether or not I actually like the series or not ultimately depends on the plot and the characters (mostly the characters.) Cyborg 009 would be a good example, I'm not altogether a fan of the retro-anime look, and even by the standards of retro anime, the designs were ugly as sin. The plot and the characters were so awesome that I was willing to forgive the fact that everyone looked like a misshaped blob of putty. Background art is slightly different for me though, unless it's really beautiful or it has some other distinguishing feature I usually can't remember it at all.

So my first Impression is based on the art, and my last impression is based on the story and the people in the story. Either way, I usually wait for a recommendation before I try something new.

As for Flowers of Evil, I thought it looked so cool, I actually showed the trailer to my Mom (which I don't normally do) even though it was just some dude walking around for two minutes.

And now we move to "John From San Diego," who also echoes the previous Answerfans' "character" sentiments:

Dear Answerman,

I'm mostly a story-first kind of guy, so my initial response to this week's question was that "aesthetically pleasing" animation isn't that important to me, but after I thought about it a little more, that's only true to a certain extent.

On one hand, there are lots of series that I, and I suspect many others, enjoyed regardless of their visuals. Legend of the Galactic Heroes didn't look that great and was rather stiff, even for its time, but it was an epic space opera with a fantastic story and engaging characters. Also, I was so busy laughing at Hetalia that I didn't notice that the animation was lazy and characters all looked somewhat the same until someone pointed it out to me. I haven't actually seen it, but I've heard a lot of people say that Berserk is great in spite of poor visuals. It's safe to say that having other great qualities can make a series beloved in spite of average-to-poor visuals.

On the other hand, however, there's Bakemonogatari. I'm not sure what other people thought of the stories, but I thought they were a bit on the predictable side. Seriously, did anyone NOT see the reason for Tsubasa's stress coming in the final arc? They weren't bad by any means, but I would say the stories were average. However, I would rank the series very highly anyway because of its interesting characters, and more importantly the quirky, unique visual style. Somehow, the way it would quickly flash between views of different characters as they spoke with the black screens mixed in worked for me.

Even more extremely, there's Black Rock Shooter. Let's be honest; the story of the OVA and the TV Animation is kind of dumb. The concept behind it works to a certain extent, and the Chariot arc wasn't too bad. However, when Yomi was getting depressed, to the point that Dead Master reacted, over Mato spending more time with Yuu than with her, it induced in me a cacophony of groans and eye-rolling. Regardless of that, though, I fell in love with the series from the moment I first laid eyes on a Dead Master statuette. The character designs first captured my interest, and the quality of the animation and visuals in the actual show cemented it. I will never forget the scene where BRS transforms her cannon into a Gatling gun and unloads on Chariot. Her battles with Dead Master in both the OVA and the TV series were epic to watch. I loved it so much that I shelled out the money to import the blu-rays of the TV series with the Insane BRS figma, as well as the OVA bundle with the nendoroid petits and storyboard book. All that for a story that is dumb but beautifully told; highly unusual for me.

From this, I can conclude it's also safe to say that having other great qualities, such as animation or appealing characters, can make a series beloved in spite of average-to-poor story. Since this goes both ways, we can come to the common-sense conclusion that it's simply best to withhold judgment on Flowers of Evil, or any other series, until you've actually given it a chance and watched a few episodes, rather than dismissing it based on one characteristic. Aesthetic appeal is only one of many factors that can make a show great.

And speaking of "story first," Robert has this to say:

It's funny since I was just talking about "Flowers of Evil" in the previous question as one of the more interesting shows that came out this season.

The Uncanny Valley definitely comes to mind when I saw the show, but I feel that it fits the atmosphere of the story really well. Zac, in his preview called the main character "detached" and that's exactly how I feel what the animation style does for the story. Couple that with both the music and the dark overtones of the show, and you get something that is surprisingly cohesive. The only thing that I feel has been an issue so far is the general sluggishness of certain scenes which I guess comes with the territories of the rotoscope technique, but beyond that, the over-all look doesn't bother me as much because it seems to just work with everything.

The real issue, of course, is the actual content of the show, which has been rather entertaining thus far.

Although I disagree with anyone enjoying Ergo Proxy "thoroughly," I have no choice but to take James at his word:

Hey Answerman,

I know you said "regardless of the story", though I'm going to have to overlook that part as I am of the opinion that an anime's story, genre, themes, etc are COMPLETELY relevant to how one should comment on its art style. I don't think that one should disregard an anime's substance when analyzing the art style it utilizes.

I'll give you an example: I'm currently watching through Ergo Proxy (and enjoying in thoroughly) which, while it isn't a bad-looking anime, the art isn't as "aesthetically pleasing" as in some of the more 'mainstream' anime. It's darker, the colours aren't as bright, and everything is generally duller. However, the content of Ergo Proxy is more serious, there's no comedy, and is generally a 'darker' anime than others, so its art style enhances the mood. A similar approach is taken in other serious anime like Death Note and the recent Psycho-Pass. It wouldn't really suit these anime to have the sort of art style you'd see in, say, OreImo or K (what I see a s"aesthetically pleasing"). The only exception to this that I can think of is when an anime will use an art style to contrast the content to add effect, like Madoka Magica.

So, when you look at an anime like Aku no Hana (yes, I use the Japanese name), I don't think one should drop it just because it uses a particularly unconventional art style. When I watched the first episode, I noticed that the scenery was particularly detailed and well done, and the art style of the people was quite... unsettlingly realistic. And because it's completely filmed first and drawn over, the dialogue, timing and movements are also realistic. However, I don't see this as a problem. When you consider the plot, especially which considering the character of Nakamura, it unsettling in itself, so I think that, if anything, the rotoscoping actually enhances the mood in the anime.

Eric asks the age old question: What other spices, aside from Variety, go with Life? Cayenne?

As a visual art, of course the visuals of an anime or any animated subject matter to me. Something like say, Redline, wouldn't have caught my attention if it weren't for the gorgeous animation and eye-popping visuals.

However, I think it's rather telling and disheartening that many of the complaints about Flowers of Evil's art style is that the characters aren't "attractive" enough, or that the female characters look male. Are we at that point where characters need to look attractive for our cartoons to be worth watching? To me, the visuals need to match the intended tone of the show, and even more importantly be interesting. What I like about the rotoscoping in Flowers of Evil is that the characters do look Japanese, and yet they don't, if that makes sense. The frame rate and lack of shading in places makes it obvious that these are cartoons drawn over humans, creating this weird and unsettling mood. I don't know the manga, but from the first episode I watched? The story was weird and unsettling. The visuals were interesting and matched the tone of the show, so I thought it was commendable.

Another example of an odd art style enhancing a show: now I would have watched Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine regardless of the art style, because a new Lupin series is a big deal, but I wouldn't have loved it nearly as much if it weren't for the unique visuals. Super detailed shading, crazy lanky designs, and the psychedelic scenery later on in the show made for such a unique series. The first six episodes, while effectively written, would not have been nearly as appealing were it not for an artstyle. Like Flowers of Evil, the visuals stick out in such a way that you can't help but take a look at it.

Art is subjective, but I think we can agree that unique art creates discussion, and thus interest and eventually passion. Stuff like Flowers of Evil and Fujiko Mine have such unique artstyles, and more importantly artstyles that enhance the intended moods of their respective shows, are unique and show the flexibility and power of the anime medium. I can understand people not digging Flowers of Evil's artstyle, but rejecting it on the basis of trying something new, or worse not even watching an episode of the show to see if the art works in context of the show, that to me shows an unwillingness for variety. Variety is the spice of life.

For David, I have only one question: If Aesthetics is King, what is the Queen? Prosthetics? I'll stop.

For me, aesthetics is king in anime and manga. If all I wanted was a good story, I'd read a real book - not that I'm opposed to good stories in anime, but that I see them as a bonus. I'm willing to put up with a lot of dreck if I find the show visually appealing.

I watched Elfin Lied and Evangelion all the way through, despite absolutely hating the male protagonists (and the former being about the stupidest show I've ever finished). I have never watched/read/played anything art by Akira Toriyama, because I just plain don't like his art style.

I don't watch very many mecha shows, because I really don't like the "human-in-a-suit-of-funny-looking-armor" look that most mecha have, if they don't have a very good reason for that to be the case - NGE, Escaflone, and Eureka Seven are OK, Gundam is not. I'm not too fond of most fan-service; I'm not opposed to it in principle, it just doesn't service me. I especially absolutely hate panty-shots; I've dropped shows for that, and not picked up others where I know that's a factor (Strike Witches, of course).

If a show has cool-looking spaceships, I'm much more inclined to put up with it, unless it heavily features mecha designs I don't like.

And that's all the responses I have time for! Thanks to everybody for writing in, giving me invaluable insight to the aesthetic tastes of my readers! Which I hereby promise to NOT sell to advertisers and interested parties!

There's another question for next week, though! This time, I want all of you to dig through your treasure troves of personal collections and trinkets, and think about that most decadent of pastimes: IMPORTING!

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.

As always, thanks to everybody for sending me all your terrific questions and answers every single week! And if YOU, dear reader, wish to send me something to answer or display on Answerfans, all you need to do is send me an email to Answerman(at!)AnimeNewsNetwork.com! Until next week, wishers and dreamers!

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