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Red Meat

by Justin Sevakis,

Was gonna take this week off, but managed to cram in a few quick questions under the wire. We'll be back at full speed next week. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

jamil asks:

Do you think there is a possibility of an american tv station like g4 or something bring brought out or a new one tv station created that shows mainly anime; because i know a ton of people watch anime and a station like g4 which im sure very few people watch because it rarely shows video game content would be able to make a lot of money if a company like viz or funimation took over and showed anime instead of showing either quantum leap and ninja warrior 23 hrs a day

We do have dedicated anime channels. Several. For 24-hour linear networks, we have FUNimation Channel on cable, and Neon Alley on game consoles. For cable video-on-demand, we have Anime Network and FUNimation Channel On Demand. And you know what? None of them are very popular, and I think it's pretty clear that the time for them has passed.

Running a broadcast network is an insane amount of work, and the guys and girls that do it work very hard and they'll probably want to kill me for saying this, but it's true: cable channels just can't compete with internet streaming these days. There is no way a cable network can compete with the immediate gratification on Crunchyroll, the choices offered by Hulu, or even the meager selection on Netflix. All of those services offer anime in HD, most of them have an option to watch with limited commercials, and with a cheap appliance like a Roku or an AppleTV, they can all be viewed quite comfortably on the couch. Why would you want a cable channel?

Back in the day, before internet streaming was a thing, having ONE well-programmed 24-hour cable channel dedicated to anime seemed like the ultimate dream. Unfortunately, this utopia never quite came to pass: only the existing anime companies cared enough to actually start a cable channel (which meant licensing anime from the other competing companies would prove difficult -- anime publishers are not known for playing nicely together). Not being run by a big conglomerate like Viacom or Disney meant that getting carriage on cable operators was an uphill battle. Cable operators are always short on bandwidth, and they basically have to be blackmailed by powerful companies into to picking up new channels.

There were a few lucky breaks along the way: Anime Network came along just in time to feed the cable companies' Video-On-Demand pipelines and became a mainstay of many cable operators' line-ups. But for the most part, linear broadcast never really caught on with anime fans. Anime Network ended up dropping their linear channel due to lack of interest a few years back, while FUNimation Channel famously tried (and failed) to keep themselves on Verizon FIOS TV service last year. (The channel was later restored as an on-demand channel.) They currently don't even bother posting their schedule on their website. (update: Looks like it's back. Must've been a technical glitch.)

Cable TV is a tough business, and aside from on-demand, there simply aren't enough hits to drive a big enough audience to make a TV network successful. Offering content on-demand is the way of the future, and the existing companies deserve credit for getting there well ahead of the rest of the entertainment industry.

Matthew asks:

I've noticed that older anime with English signs in the background will often have common grammar or spelling errors. More recently it seems to happen less and less. I was wondering if there is a more conscience effort going into making sure the English is right and why they are trying harder. (My assumption would be that they are more aware that their product will go to America, but I don't like to make assumptions so I'm asking)

You're partially right in that animators know their work is going overseas, and so they'll work a little harder to make sure their English isn't a total mess. However, you're also forgetting that back in the day, animators worked at a desk with pencil and paper, and there was ne'er a computer in sight. Nowadays they're all sitting at computers, or have a smartphone close by. If an animator isn't sure how to spell something, they can just google it.

This means that we are more likely to get Engrish that is spelled correctly. Given how awkward and silly sounding English-speaking characters still are when they appear in anime, I don't think we'll be lacking for Engrish in the foreseeable future. But I must admit, it doesn't seem as wacky as it once did.

John asks:

Why is it that American anime distributors sometimes do not fully credit the voice actors that are in a show's cast? Even when a voice actor actually plays an important supporting role instead of some super-tertiary role, they are not immune to receiving incomplete credit in a dub. This is an issue that has become more prevalent with a number of releases by Sentai Filmworks: Penguindrum, which only matched four voice actors to four characters in a cast of a dozen-plus; Dusk maiden of Amnesia, which also only matched voices with 4 of its characters; Mysterious Girlfriend X, same deal; Medaka Box, which only matched 5 actors with 5 roles… and so on. This is frustrating for dub fans, or at least any current/prospective ANN Encyclopedia contributors, who then have to play a game of “name that voice actor” by ear or find out information from other sources of varying reliability when adding credits to the Encyclopedia. (Not to mention, it feels unfair for there to be many voices not credited to specific roles in the first place.) Is there some kind of industry standard or precedent that makes this perfectly fine to do? Might it just be up to the crew's discretion? There appears to be no truly consistent policy in Sentai's case—some anime besides those listed above are comparatively generous with their cast credits, like Kids on the Slope, but even then there are some un-credited actors under “Additional Voices.”

Just to be clear, you're talking pretty much only about Sentai Filmworks releases. I mean, pretty much every dub I've seen recently from every other company is pretty meticulous about crediting everyone.

In Sentai's case, we can only be sure of a few things: first, everything is being done VERY VERY fast. I've had voice actors tell me tales of recording over there that have made my hair stand on end: they plow through those recording sessions at a BLINDING pace. I'm going to take a wild guess that they're sometimes getting a little sloppy in keeping notes of who plays what role, particularly in smaller, one-episode parts.

Second, we know that none of their productions are union, so there are no rules about how people are credited. Third, their video production department is going as fast as their dub studio, so it's quite possible that when those credits are being rendered, the dub isn't yet done, and the few names on the credit list are the only ones they even have cast at that point.

It really all comes down to how fast those guys are working. It's definitely not an ideal situation, but those guys are really breaking themselves trying to release those shiny discs as fast as humanly possible. Things, clearly, are slipping through the cracks. Given all of the other production problems that have cropped up for them in the last year, I'd say having a complete cast list is pretty far down there on the list of concerns.

And that's all for this week! Got questions for me? Send them in! The e-mail address, as always, is answerman (at!) animenewsnetwork.com.

Justin Sevakis is the founder of Anime News Network, and owner of the video production company MediaOCD. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap, and check out his bi-weekly column on obscure old stuff, Pile of Shame.

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