Quick Answers Part 1

by Justin Sevakis,

A few years ago, Answerman changed up its format a little bit, and we started giving each question its own column several times a week, rather than answering a bunch of questions once a week. The new format's been great -- old questions are easier to find, and I can give new ones a much deeper dive than I might've been able to in the old format. But I also get occasional questions that are just a little TOO easy to answer. These are questions that I might be able to devote a paragraph to, but not much more than that. If it's a really good question sometimes I answer by email. But it's kind of a waste to not use them at all.

So, every once in a while, I'll do a "lightning round" where I'll go through and answer a bunch of quick questions in one go. Sound good? Here we go!

Cesar asks:

It sucks that Ordinal Scale doesn't have any screenings where I live (the Caribbean for the time being). I think I can recall DBZ Battle of Gods having a screening somewhere a few years back, and it's still popular enough that you'll occasionally see DBZ ad strips on potato chip bags. How do anime movies get international screenings outside of North America?

Distributing a film takes a lot of knowledge about that country's local market (as well as any government regulations about screening films, such as mandatory ratings and censorship boards). This would be well outside of the purview of most Japanese companies, and most Western companies that might end up with rights to more territories than they know what to do with. There needs to be a local distributor that buys the rights and distributes the film to local cinemas. This is especially true of smaller territories like the Caribbean, because there isn't THAT much money to be made there -- few companies would bother trying to partner with someone or expand their reach to do it themselves.

Samuel asks:

If Christmas, New Year's Eve/Day, Valentine's Day, and White Day are depicted in anime/manga, then how come you rarely see some other Japanese holidays/festivals depicted like Labor Thanksgiving Day or the Seven-Five-Three festival for example?

For the same reason you don't see American sitcoms devote episodes to President's Day, Memorial Day or Flag Day: they're just not that big of a deal, socially. Some people might get the day off, but there's really little else to talk about. There are plenty of anime with festival episodes, but many smaller festivals are local or regional. Big ones like Tanabata get the most play because everyone celebrates them.

Jetzero asks:

So Crunchyroll's dub to Gintama launched a few weeks ago, and while I'd heard stuff floating around for a while that it would dubbed in Canada as opposed to California or Texas, I was a little surprised to see that actually happen. It got me thinking: why exactly are less anime dubbed over in Canada now as opposed to the usual U.S. outlets. I know a lot of toyetic stuff is still done over there, but that's more or less it, and while I've heard the exchange rate used to be an issue, I've also heard it's a lot better these days so I was wondering if you had a more definitive answer.

The exchange rate between the US and Canada definitely factored into the Vancouver and Toronto dub scenes getting more anime work back in the 90s and early 2000s. However, companies like Ocean Productions also heavily courted anime companies in trying to get work. The Canadian voice over scene was well developed already -- it had already become a go-to place for American pre-lay work, and since many of the same companies were also adapting cartoons from other countries, they became a place for dubbing as well.

A few things happened since. The audio and video post-production industries in general took beatings from the double-whammy of the digital revolution (making it far easier to do audio work cheaply without hiring a specialty studio) and the 2007 financial crisis. Quite a few key people left Vancouver and Toronto; some moved to LA and New York. The quality of the work produced in Canada suffered, and since it was no longer such a great deal compared to American studios, anime companies stopped sending work up there. Also, these days there is much more oversight over dub production by both publishers and Japanese licensors, so dubbing something where these companies are headquartered makes more sense.

There really is no dub studio in San Francisco, though, or much video production work in general being done there. And so, Crunchyroll is kicking the tires of several options. I haven't seen this dub yet -- I hope it's good.

Adam asks:

I browsed bluray anime on EBay recently and found Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and Berserk(1997 tv series) on Bluray with subtitles. I know for a fact that neither of these titles have a licensed Bluray release in the U.S. and neither have English subtitles on the Japanese bluray release. How can EBay get away with selling items that appear to be bootlegs?

Because eBay is not actively looking for bootlegs, especially of older anime. These discs are completely, 100% illegal, but eBay has been pretty bad about hosting auctions for bootlegged anime since its inception. While we can report them, it's not clear that this does anything -- the Japanese (or American) companies that own the rights to these shows would have to make a stink.

Michelle asks:

I always wonder why females grab each other's boobs from behind in anime. I'd like to give specific examples, but it's so ubiquitous I wouldn't even know where to start. To keep it short, let's just say it's in basically every anime ever. I always wonder if that's something Japanese girls actually do, like if it's a cultural thing to have less regard for personal space.

Friends in Japan, especially kids and teens,tend to be very touchy-feely, to a degree that Westerners usually don't see coming in a country that's usually so reserved. While grabbing your close friends inappropriately is nearly universally a thing with the right group of people (heck, I get my ass grabbed more by my straight gym friends than by anyone else), it's absolutely being played up in anime among females for fan service purposes.

Vanessa asks:

I notice blurays these days, anime or otherwise, have fewer features than when they first were introduced. I liked it when the disk remembered where I left of even after removing it from the player and the bookmarking ability. Why not utilize this anymore? Seems the only thing still being used are pop up menus.

All of these "advanced features" required discs that were programmed in Java, which was extremely difficult and had massive compatibility issues, since Java implementations on different Blu-ray players all had bizarre player-specific quirks. Most major Hollywood studios have now abandoned Java for Blu-ray in favor of the simpler and more reliable HDMV programming used on most anime discs. Nearly all of the anime Blu-rays, however, used HDMV from the beginning, since smaller publishers lacked the manpower to mess around with Java earlier in the format's life.

James asks:

I am certain that most watchers of Japanese animation have noticed that people in Japan tend to answer a telephone with the phrase "moshi-moshi," rather than "ohayo" or "konnichiwa," which they would use when greeting a person face-to-face. However, that phrase is not used anywhere else, so why do people in Japan have a phrase that they use specifically for answering a telephone, when most westerners use the same phrase that they would use when greeting a person face-to-face?

"Moshi-moshi" is not actually a greeting per se. It actually comes from the verb "mousu" (申す), which is a polite form of "to say." So really, it means "we're gonna talk" -- or, if said in the middle of a conversation, "are we still talking?" From the early days of telephones, it was a way to ensure there was a connection, not actually greet someone, and that meaning has stuck around till today. And since it's shortened, it's really only used on the phone between friends and family, not between strangers or professionals. (They just say "hai", or if they're a receptionist or something, "お電話ありがとうございます/Thanks for calling.")

It's confusing if you're used to English, but differentiating the two becomes simpler when you think of "Hello?" -- a question when you're not sure if you're being heard -- as a different word from "hello!" the greeting. Those are two separate uses that happen to have the same word in English, but have entirely different meanings. In Japanese, they're different.

That's it! Do you like this format? Let me know in the comments. It's nice to get a bunch of quickies out of the say like this.

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Anime News Network founder Justin Sevakis wrote Answerman between July 2013 and August 2019, and had over 20 years of experience in the anime business at the time. These days, he's the owner of the video production company MediaOCD, where he produces many anime Blu-rays. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.

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