Quick Answers Part 4

by Justin Sevakis,

Got lots of good questions this week, but most of them don't have answers that are very long, so let's just do a ton of them at once!

Larry asks:

In anime and manga the main character always gets flustered over an indirect kiss. Do people in Japan actually get flustered over this because I feel like here in U.S. people don't really get flustered like that. I just wanted to know is all.

Not many people in Japan would either. The "indirect kiss" (wherein putting your lips on a soda can or something after those of a potential love interest has touched them) is the stuff of melodramatic shoujo romances. In that cherry blossom-filled world, first kisses are a huge, huge deal, purity is everything, and youth blossoms effervescently from every yearning flight of fancy.

Of course, pop culture and people's actual behavior do cross over a bit, particularly among the young, who are inexperienced and taking their social cues from the media they consume. And so, someone who reads a lot of youth romance manga might have the thought, "Oh! An indirect kiss!" if that situation came up in real life. Kids who go to gender-separated schools also might think of the opposite sex as something very unfamiliar, and therefore put too much importance on social interaction. But that's pretty much the extent of it. It's more just a fiction trope at this point.

Kevin asks:

This is main problem I have with english dubs, and that's hearing the same voice in multiple shows. Its not a problem if you hear it for the first time but hearing it so many times it gets realty weird and off. Sure it matches the character perfectly but why cant they use some kind of voice editing software? Is it because its time consuming or do they not want to offend there fellow voice actors?

Digitally pitch-shifting voice actors is done occasionally for certain fantasy voices -- tiny fairies or gigantic robots, for example -- but it's very rarely done for a "normal" performance. Why? It simply doesn't sound natural. Digitally manipulating vocal performances throws off small things that our brains subconsciously pick up on. Like weird eyes or teeth on an otherwise photorealistic CG human, it just feels creepy and "off," and we reject it.

Not all viewers would pick up on that, but the engineers and directors that dub anime are constantly judging performances. Any ADR director worth their salt would never allow a digitally compromised performance to make it to the final product. Unfortunately that rules out a lot of digital tools.

Jacob asks:

I have heard for years that in Japan the legal age for marriage/consent is way lower than most of the rest of the world. Though it seems like this is downplayed a lot more in recent years, it still seems to pop up now and then in anime and manga. For what I can from Google, it is over the age of 18, which is pretty normal you graduated high school mentality. I have wondered why this stereotype still continues?

The stereotype is a dated one. Nationally, the age of consent in Japan is technically 13 for sex and 20 for marriage (or 16-18 with parental permission, since 20 is when you legally become an adult in many Asian countries). However, each prefecture in Japan has, independent of the national government, enacted child welfare acts that make people over 18 engaging in lewd behavior with a minor a misdemeanor. (Sex with a minor under 13 is, under Japanese federal law, a felony punishable by up to 20 years of forced labor.)

Since these prefectural laws make the age of consent 18 to 20 depending on the situation, this actually makes Japan one of the more conservative countries. (US law places the age of consent at 16.) Those laws are vague and frequently criticized, since they were originally intended to protect Japanese teenagers from human trafficking, which was a problem in the 1960s. However, officials started really enforcing the law in the 90s after Japan had serious issues with child sex tourism. In recent years the government has clamped down further, even intervening in relationships among similarly-aged late-teenagers.

Keito asks:

It's already the 20th century and still why do people in Japan put censorship in BL anime/manga, for example, the latest shounen ai anime, Hitorijime my Hero, there gets a kissing scene but they won't show how the characters lips touch! Why?!

First of all, intentionally not showing something is not "censorship" unless it's imposed unwillingly on the creators. Since a lot of Japan is still pretty conservative, not showing kissing (but showing what is clearly the afterglow of sex) is a great way to not trigger any conservative people (who would complain to the TV station and cause trouble), while at the same time teasing/titillating the fans desperate for some visual payoff. What can I say, it works.

Lih Ching asks:

Is there any problems with countryside japanese speaking dialects to other japanese? I have seen quite few anime where they refrain themselves from speaking it. Ebina from Himouto Umaru-chan to name a few.

Yes, Japan has several major regional dialects, and has for centuries. Nearly all anime is produced in Kanto-ben (Tokyo), which is considered "standard." Other dialects have a lot of small regional differences, but can be grouped broadly by region. Kansai-ben (Kyoto/Osaka) is the next most common, and isn't THAT different from Kanto-ben, though there are definitely some unique words and sentence structure changes. There's only sporadic difficulty in the two regions understanding each other, however.

Up north, there's Tohoku-ben, which is slower and mumbly, and usually has to be subtitled for the rest of the country. Kyushu-ben (from the eponymous Southwestern island) is, in some places, completely unintelligible to other Japanese speakers. Okinawan and Amami are basically not even Japanese anymore.

So if you're from one of those hard-to-understand areas of Japan and have moved to Tokyo, you're definitely going to need to change your speech if you wish to be understood by those around you.

Kasra asks:

Recently anime youtubers have put a lot of effort into telling people not use the pirate site Kissanime.The response from viewers was that the way Crunchyroll and mostly Netfilx and Amazon was not want they wanted to pay for -- either they can't afford it or the service is just not good for them. Aside from the familiar excuses (not much content available in my country, Netflix doesn't simulcast), one response said that they'd rather subscribe via a Steam-type system, wherein they can buy a single game and not subscribe to the whole service. Can a Steam type of system work better for anime, and will it help kill kissanime?

We have Steam for back catalog anime. In fact, we have several: iTunes, Amazon Video, XBox Live and PSN all offer pay-by-show download options with permanent ownership. While it's not the most popular way for fans to collect anime, it doesn't do badly, particularly with dubbed shows, bigger shows, and shows where younger fans will want to buy them without their parents noticing.

But the hot shows are always the newest shows, which means simulcasts. I don't see the Steam model working very well for simulcasts, mostly because it's impossible to tell ahead of time what shows will end up being worthwhile. For sequel series and other hotly anticipated shows this might work, but for the vast majority of anime, people just need to sample the shows before they buy them. That was the whole problem with the old way where we had to buy DVDs without seeing the show first. It often didn't work out very well. Fans ended up with a ton of discs of shows they hated, and wasting a ton of money.

Also, this seems like a weak excuse to me. Crunchyroll is US$7 per month, which is $24 per quarter. That's not very much money compared to every other option out there for streaming and paid-download, and it unlocks WAY more than one series.

Do YOU have a question for the Answerman?

We want your questions! Send in as many or as often as you like. We can only pick three questions a week (and unfortunately I don't have ALL the answers) so if you haven't been chosen, don't be discouraged, and keep on sending.

HOWEVER... CHECK THE ARCHIVES FIRST. I've answered a lot of questions already! Here are some common ones...

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  • Will _____ get a new season? When?? (New productions are a closely guarded secret until they're announced. I don't know anything Google can't tell you.)
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    Justin Sevakis has worked in the anime business for over 20 years. He's the original founder of Anime News Network, and owner of the video production company MediaOCD. You can follow him on Twitter at @worldofcrap.

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