Hey, Answerman! - Satire-d

by Brian Hanson,

Hey everyone! This is Brian here again, welcoming you all to another weekly advice-dispensary known as Hey, Answerman!

This is that time of year when I get video games on my brain, in a big way. I mean, E3 is comin' up in a few, big console manufacturers have let slip their Holiday 2013 Dogs of War, and Twitter becomes a big hellcluster beehive of angry nerds like myself buzzing and stinging at every silly thing these megacorporations do and say.

So, I might be doing something with that enthusiasm later. Keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, there were some great questions I got sent this week, so let's get to them:

Dear Answerman,

I have a question about the Bubblegum Crisis live action movie if any.

I came across a website on Goggle by typing in : Bubblegum Crisis Demi Moore. It's very extensive, and shows what sure look like photos of the cast, and scenes from the movie. Demi Moore, it seems, almost steals the movie as Sylia Stingray and Lucy Liu is Priss, as the website phrases it. It also says a preview audience saw the movie, and loved it, even jumping out of their seats in the climactic 25 minutes. Hmmmmmmm....... The movie lasts two hours, and has an R-rating.

Then, somewhere, I forget where, I came across a web reference that the movie has recently been released somewhere, though apparently not in the US, and was a "a critical and financial success."

What is going on here? The website certainly doesn't look like a hoax, or anything. Bubblegum Crisis/Crash is one of my all-time favorite stories, in any medium. Help!

So, when you say, "the website certainly doesn't look like a hoax, or anything," you're talking about this one, right? The one that uses a blatantly obvious Photoshop of the DVD cover of the Charlie's Angels movie? The one that is basically a tongue-in-cheek review of Charlie's Angels with references to Bubblegum Crisis thrown in as a gag? The one that, at the very bottom of the page, states, quote:

"SMALL PRINT: This is all in the name of good fun, so let's not take this seriously. It is not our intention to irritate all you BGC fans, AnimEigo, or fans of 'Charlie's Angels'. Please don't complain to AnimEigo or Sony. They have nothing to do with this, and we are not going to make any money with this feature. This is the last time I watch back to back showings of 'Charlie's Angels'"

Now, I'm not doing this to publicly shame somebody who simply wants to believe that a live-action Bubblegum Crisis movie exists, but come on now. This was clearly a joke. "But it's not FUNNY!" Okay, sure, but whether or not something is "funny" doesn't make it not a joke. Take a look at this portion of text, with a close eye towards its idiotic prose and intentional spelling errors:

"Like he did with Charlie's Angels, McG has given us an excellent action film, right on par with his previous hits 'Charlie's Angels' and the inspiring 'Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle'. The fight scenes are hard core, the plot is minimal, but who needs it. Capturing the spirit of the original series, this movie borrows from many different elements of that Seminole work."

One of my favorite completely false bits of information is this notion that "sarcasm/satire doesn't translate well into text on the internet." And I'm here to say, that is grade-A bullcrap. This may sound like sour grapes coming from a guy who pulled a similar gag a few weeks ago, where it blew itself out in grand form in the forums - much to my surprise/chagrin - but hear me out. Not every bored writer on the planet, burdened with some thankless task like, say, reviewing the awful McG Charlie's Angels movies , needs to have big, bold, audacious text everywhere announcing ****THIS IS A JOKE DO NOT TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY, PLEASE THIS IS A JOKE*******. A writer should trust their audience enough to understand that even if they don't find something funny, they'll understand that it is a joke.

To do my due diligence here: there *was* a live-action film version of Bubblegum Crisis that was supposed to happen. It was supposed to happen a year ago, from everything I've heard. I've talked about it before on the column. At this point, considering we haven't heard a single thing about the movie since November of 2010 and its supposed "Summer 2012" release date was a year ago, I'd say it's a fair assumption to consider the movie pretty much dead at this point. Maybe it'll come back; you never know with these things. Every once in a while we'll still hear a peep or two about WETA's live-action Evangelion movie. For whatever its worth, Bubblegum Crisis really was a "Seminole" anime title for a lot of people, so the Western remake rights are certainly valuable enough to be utilized to some degree. But who knows if the Canadian-Chinese-British-Australian-Japanese co-production still has the rights to the property anymore, who owns whatever script they were working on, and dozens of other problems that can plague any large-scale independent movie production of any sizable scope. So for the sake of simplicity, let's just say this: it's dead.

It's dead, folks. It's dead unless someone at Deadline, Variety, or The Hollywood Reporter, or any other entertainment trade of some repute, says otherwise. Then, it's fair game. But let's not allow our undying enthusiasm for these things cloud our judgment and hoodwink us into believing such obvious and blatant satire. Sometimes, writers like to have a little bit of harmless fun.

Dear Answerman,

I am an anime fan in the U.S. that has long since become tired of all the constant edits to the openings/endings of network broadcasted anime in the U.S. I watched the premiere of One Piece episode 207 on Toonami and I was shocked to find that they had butchered the opening and ending into a 30 second disappointment. And when it comes to the Adult Swim programming block, it always seems to be anime that gets targeted; you never see shows like Family Guy, American Dad, or even The Venture Bros. having their openings/endings edited. I thought I could tolerate it after they shortened the endings to Bleach on Adult Swim a few years back, but enough is enough. So what exactly is the deal?


What is this, 2002? Yeesh!

So, the deal here is this: in order to show the actual episode in an uncensored format, they need to trim down the opening and closing animation. Otherwise, the episodes would run far over the maximum length allowed for a half-hour program on the network. Gotta have time for commercials, brother. Gotta pay those bills.

And before everybody gets all down on Adult Swim for cutting into the OP and EDs in order to shove soulless commercials down people's throats, consider this: Adult Swim is actually one of the few remaining holdouts that still allows for 22 minutes of actual programming per half-hour. Nearly every other network has cut that time down to 19. If you cut out the commercials on any hour-long TV show on NBC, and the running time is a shockingly-low 40 MINUTES. You're watching nearly a half-hour of commercials every single hour.

Advertisers on Japanese TV work a bit differently, and there's a lot less advertising per half-hour than we get here. If you've been watching fansubs at all, surely you've noticed the announcement of a "Goran no Sponsor" at the beginning of every episode, after the OP. That's part of it. It's not uncommon for your average anime series - even one in prime-time television, like One Piece - to run 24 to 25 minutes. Considering that each OP and ED runs anywhere from 1:30 to a full 2 minutes, if you're Adult Swim or Funimation, which would you rather do: trim down the OP and ED, or make edits within the actual episode? Potentially compromising the story, or the gags, or anything else that would ENRAGE the fanbase far greater than editing down the admittedly-pretty but otherwise useless opening credits? I think the solution is obvious.

The current Toonami is a far cry from the old one, where they went to great expense to paint out blood, re-hire the same voice actors to replace curse words, and essentially worked really hard to pretend that certain shows meant for older teens - Outlaw Star, anyone? - were actually kid-friendly action romps. You're getting the shows essentially unaltered from their original dubs, with certain concessions to broadcast standards; nudity gets blurred out, and you still can't say certain words on TV. But, look, Toonami aired the egregiously violent Deadman Wonderland virtually un-altered, so I think One Piece is fine. Even if they had to cut down the OP to 30 seconds. 30 seconds of bittersweet disappointment.

Are you familiar with the Comics Journal? I have been reading The Flowers of Evil manga recently. On the back of the cover, there was a quote from the Comics Journal referring to otaku culture as a “Cul de Sac” and goes on to complain about over-consumption and the directionlessness of said culture. Do you agree with this statement? How much consumption is over-consumption? Why is over-consumption bad? What would be a “sense of direction” that we could have? How is the otaku culture problem (if there is one) worse than any other culture? Why would vertical put such a damning quote on the back cover of a manga?

Instead of asking one question, you asked - let's see, five, six, yup, six - SIX questions! That's a lot.

But let's start with The Comics Journal itself. If you're in the business of publishing, specifically the business of publishing comics, The Comics Journal can be either your greatest ally or foe. It's read by industry professionals and snooty comics fans for pointed critique and recommendations; get your comic mentioned positively in The Comics Journal, and you'll sell a lot of books. You'll sell a lot of books to an older, more educated and savvy crowd (one less likely to pirate things digitally, let's say), which is precisely the crowd that Vertical engages with. So, why would they put such a "damning" quote on their book? Because it's The Comics Journal, they know comics better than anyone I know personally, and they do good work.

For fun, let's look at the "damning" cul de sac remark in detail, from their full writeup:

"...If otaku culture is a cul-de-sac, a senseless, purposeless, exitless lonely alley of over-consumption and sexualized cartoon teens, well, I'm relieved a bit, nonetheless, that someone has seen fit to capitalize the Decadence of the scene, rather than merely capitalize on it. That's worth a horselaugh and a conspiratorial nod from one dork to another."

So, if I was Vertical, and I was targeting an older, more educated crowd than the usual manga market, I'd think to myself, "Hey, this quote is great! It shows how Flowers of Evil is a more sophisticated, darker, and sexually engaging take on shonen romance and ecchi than thousands of other otaku-focused fanservice crap!" It perfectly sells, in exquisite words, what separates Flowers of Evil from the other dreck on the bookstore shelves filled with chaste yet perverse fanservice and meekly hardcore titillation. "This is different." I don't fault Vertical for using that quote at all. I think it's a great quote that aptly sells the series to people who would otherwise dismiss it, at first glance, as something facile and forgettable.

Now then! As to all your other, uh, questions! Over-consumption! Directionlessness! Cul de sacs! Otaku culture! Sorry, friend, but in my experience, if there's one thing "otaku culture" doesn't like, it's when people like me try to define what "otaku culture" is. So, I won't. The Comics Journal said their own thing, which is true to their own sense of things. I agree with it in the context of the entire review, which I encourage people to read. The review itself is not meant as a harsh expose on "over-consumption" and sexualization of otaku culture, but merely reflecting that a lot of the material that propagates within that culture is prone to being nothing more than a soulless product that exclusively features those things and nothing else of value, which is something I don't think anyone will argue with. No engaging story, just tired, worn-out tropes padded out with gratuitous fanservice. Fine for the audience that adores that sort of thing, but probably not up the alley for people who read The Comics Journal.

In other words, I'm not getting into the veritable hornet's nest that occurs whenever somebody like myself attempts in any way to define "otaku culture." It's not a culture I'm a part of, but it's a culture I'm astutely aware of, which puts me in an awkward position when it comes to something like this; a "mainstream" outlet examining it in the context of one particular title. So, about all I can do here is defend what The Comics Journal was saying, which I think is very true when you're talking about Flowers of Evil standing out from an army of lookalikes. Outside the specific context of that specific review, though, that's another ball of wax that's not really worth my time. Or anyone else's, quite frankly. The people who call themselves "otaku" seem perfectly capable of describing their own "culture," so I'll leave them to it.

It's time! Time for me to shut up! Kinda! In other words: I wrote some things to ask you guys, and you responded!

So let's set our watches back one week and take a peek at your convention plans for the summer, which is summed up by this jaggedy box of .jpeg!

First up is Jackson, who I'd like to pretend has a first name called "Action" and his/her life is an unending stream of 80's action movie cliches:

Hello, Answerman!

Since I'm an Illinois native and just got back from Anime Central a few weeks ago, I wanted to point out some of the cons in the Midwest that don't always get the same attention as the ones on the coasts.

This year (should everything pan out and I can get all the time off I need :P), I'll be at Anime Midwest, since that's only a short drive for me, where I'll likely be meeting a few friends from Tumblr before calling it a day. Then, in August, I'll be spending a lot of sleepless nights and weekends as I try to cram together trips for both Otakon and Sogen Con (I've got family and friends out there as well!)

It's nice to see a lot of smaller conventions showing up around in different states. It works out well for me, since I have family spread out all over the country, and I can typically afford my travel plans to accomodate both - I can scrap the dealers' rooms clean of toys and cheap manga, and meet my family members for dinner immediately afterwards!

I won't be cosplaying this year, since normally if I'm cosplaying anything, I like to focus only on one specific con with a big group of people; since I'll be at four different cons this year, that ain't gonna happen.

Up next, we've got the venerable Myke! I call him venerable for no particular reason, other than he spells his name differently than other Mikes:

Hey Brian,

Welcome to Los Angeles, by the way! Hopefully I'll see you around at AX this year. Though my con plans that weekend are going to be a bit insane, because I'll be torn between both AX AND AM2. Why? Because I'm a crazy person. Also, I'm strictly in it for the shopping.

It's the second year I'll be doing this. Did it last year and came out with a pretty great haul of stuff. Picked up some great forgotten Geneon and Media Blasters discs to round out my collection (Got a complete edition of Samurai Deeper Kyo between the two cons, and it barely cost me a song), not to mention some cool doujins I probably wouldn't have if I hadn't been to both cons. It works out pretty well for me, since getting in to AM2 is basically free, and I only have to pay for my AX badge on the days that have some panels and guests I'm dying to see.

Crappy that Otakon gets Yoko Kanno this year, but, well, there's always next year. I can hope.

Lastly, let's all remember to keep a solemn song in our hearts for our forgotten European anime friends, such as Sylvia here:

Hi Answerman, fan in the UK here!

You people in the US should feel so lucky when you can actually make "convention plans." There's always a few dozen "conventions" in and around London every year, but they're usually so pitifully small I've stopped attending them for the most part, unless my cosplay group is DESPERATE to go.

We all go to the MCM London Comic Con every year, almost out of necessity. The other small cons I've been to around the UK are more like anime "screenings" than anything like a typical convention. A couple of my friends in our group have been to some of the conventions in the US and abroad, and they seem like such amazingly packed, crazy madness. Right now, our massive plan is to save our money in order to fly as much of us out to San Diego for the original Comic Con sometime in the next few years.

Not that London Comic Con is anything terrible, but just once I'd like to see some of the big premieres and guests and all the other things I've been hearing out online for years for myself. I'd also love to do Anime Expo sometime.

But, that's the way it is. No matter where you are in the world, there's conventions you can go to, but you still wish you were around for some of the others.

Thanks to all of you who wrote in, but now it's time to switch it up for next week's question! Remember what I was briefly mentioning in the beginning? No? Well, here's next week's .jpegy question that relates to it!

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 all my time for now, people! Remember to send me all your questions and responses, over to my inbox! Which is answerman(at!!)animenewsnetwork.com! Until next time, internet!

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