Answerman - Under-Caffeinated

by Justin Sevakis, Jan 31st 2014

You know that really good Japanese bottled green tea, Oi Ocha? I've been addicted to the dark-brew variety for a long time. I discovered a Chinese supermarket that carries 2 liter bottles of the stuff, and would go through 4 of 'em a week.

This week I finally wondered to myself, "gee, I'll bet this has some caffeine in it, doesn't it?" YES. YES IT DOES. Almost as much as freshly brewed coffee. This explained a lot.

As I write this I am deep in the throes of withdrawl. Learn from my mistake. GREEN TEA IS GREAT FOR YOU, BUT IT HAS CAFFEINE!!!


Tess asks:

Looking at the dub credits on various anime, I noticed that a voice actor (who is often a lead) may also be credited as a producer. Because they're a producer on a series' (or an episode's) dub, is this a factor in them getting lead roles? Or, is producing a potential perk of being voice actor? Are they paid royalties?

There are a lot of people working in anime dubs that are "multiple threats" -- they do more than just act. Some of them write, some direct, some sit there and stamp timecodes for every grunt and mouth noise that needs to be dubbed. The more active a particular actor is in a dub, the better chance they will get cast in a major role -- they're right there, after all. Casting choices are all subject to licensor approval, but there's a good chance that, if they're doing something else on a dub, they'll be cast in a major role.

Before you cry "unfair!" it's possible that the decision to cast the dub's director or producer might be a monetary one. In many cases, they're already getting paid to do one job and won't get paid to do double duty, which saves the overall production the expense of paying another actor. If time is an issue, it can save a lot of time for the director of a show to jump into the booth and do exactly the take he or she has in his/her head.

Also, "producer" is a very nebulous term that could mean just about anything. Honestly, anime dubs don't really require separate producers for each episode. The credit could be given as a favor, or it could mean that person was in charge of walking the entire production through the whole process. We just don't know.

Nobody involved in dubs gets any royalties whatsoever. It's possible that royalties may enter the picture if a big Hollywood star gets cast in, say, a Ghibli dub, but if that does happen (and I've never heard of it happening), it's exceedingly rare.


Tim asks:

How can people in the anime industry, such as Yutaka Yamamoto or the people behind Gurren Lagann, leave their jobs at their respective anime studios and make their own animation studios, Ordet and Trigger, respectively? Isn't there any concerns for how they'll raise the finances for these new studios? Or are they guaranteed financial backing because of their reputations?

Why and how does anybody leave their current place of employment and start a new company on their own? They're individual people with minds of their own. They may not like the current management of the studio they're at, or dream of more freedom in how day-to-day decisions are made. It could be that the people they once loved working with have gone away, or some minor issue has become a major one. Regardless, they've made the decision that they'd be happier and perhaps more successful doing it themselves.

Starting a company is always a risk, but anime studios are fairly low-overhead affairs, so as long as there is work of some sort coming in, they can usually get by. The reputation these guys have made for themselves over the years will absolutely be the determining factor in getting them that work.

One thing occasionally happens with storied, old school studios is that, over the years, they lose their edge and become too conservative with their financial or artistic choices. They get bogged down in procedure and red tape. Sometimes they even get bought out by a larger company that doesn't understand animation and its associated business weirdness. Circumstances like that are lethal to the artistic temperament. Much as we may be attached to those old brands, having new studios is a good thing. It keeps the industry competitive, and gives new talent a better chance to get ahead.


Cassandra asks:

Recently have had an overwhelming need to start collecting some limited edition anime especially since my brother owns Future Diary: Part 1 LE so had a question of how many copies a distributor like FUNimation or Viz Media usually prints in general. When it comes to Limited Edition or Premium Edition anime about how many copies do you think are usually printed? With regular edition?

Back in the day, when Central Park Media released the Revolutionary Girl Utena movie (with limited edition pink DVD case and a disc full of trailers!), we made a big deal out of how it was a limited edition. We made only enough of that version to fulfill all of the retail preorders. That came to about 17,000 units.

Doing a limited edition of anything these days means you're printing nowhere near that. Most anime will never sell 17,000 units in its entire shelf life! I don't have specific numbers, but in general, limited edition print runs these days tend to be around 1,000-2,000 units. Any more than that, and there would be such a surplus of these "limited editions" that they would lose their value.

Edit: A friend who would know these things just sent me a note that some of the big properties still get LE print runs well surpassing that Utena LE I mentioned. But that's for really big properties -- smaller ones still see the smaller runs I mentioned.


Steven asks:

I was wondering if there was any reason as to why a long-running manga series would not be licensed? When I ask this I'm thinking of Freezing. It has over 20 volumes, 2 anime seasons - the first of which was licensed - and yet the manga remains unlicensed. Is the series actually less popular than I think it is? Or is it some kind of speculation on the publishers behalf believing it wouldn't sell well?

Freezing seems to me to be the sort of show that would do way better with American fans in animated form. But that aside, there are a lot of reasons why publishers are very hesitant to get into longer manga. It's the same reason publishers are hesitant to get into longer anime: the longer a series runs, the fewer copies you sell.

With every successive volume of manga, you can count on selling fewer and fewer copies. Fans forget, they drop the series, they put it on their lists of "maybe I'll finish buying this series someday." By the time the 4th or 5th volume comes out, a publisher might only be selling a small fraction of what they sold of Volume 1. Worse, nobody new wants to buy volume 4 or 5, so in order to introduce anybody to the series, there always has to be Volumes 1-3 available. In the same store. Many book stores don't even want to carry later volumes of long running series, simply because nobody buys them.

This was one of the main reasons the anime industry switched to season packs of 12-13 episodes rather than continuing to release 4-5 episodes on a single disc. With so many series on store shelves, it became a huge endeavor for retailers to make sure they had all the new releases AND enough of the old volumes to keep new fans buying. Manga faces a similar problem, and is still much more dependent on brick-and-mortar retailers for their sales. Hence, a 20 volume manga is a pretty scary undertaking for most anime publishers. By the time they get to those later volumes they might only be selling a few hundred copies.


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.


discuss this in the forum (57 posts) |
bookmark/share with:

this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history

Hey, Answerman! archives

Around The Web