Answerman
Quick Answers Part 6

by Justin Sevakis,

Looking at the Answerman inbox, it looks like it's time for another one of these.

Samuel asks:

Does Japan observe Daylight Savings? Please be more broad than a simple YES or NO.

No.

Heh, sorry, couldn't resist. The answer is still "no, and they never have." Every once in a while someone suggests such a thing, usually in an effort to reduce confusion in dealing with overseas countries that do observe Daylight Savings Time. (It never gets much traction.) That said, in the days following the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami some organizations did move the day's start time earlier (to 7:30am in some cases) to conserve electricity. The city government of Tokyo was probably the biggest organization to do this.

Miguel asks:

Say I have tons of money and want an anime about something made, how easy/hard would it be to convince one of the big studios to make it for me given I covered all the costs? On a side note, does anyone actually invest in anime like that by themselves or is it mostly major publishers that do that?

What you're talking about is called a "vanity project." In terms of budget, you're talking at least mid-six figures for a one-shot OVA, and well into the millions of US dollars for a movie or TV show. If you've done quite a bit of the work yourself (scripting, etc.) and have hired a capable producer, the anime studios are work-for-hire and will probably take the job if they determine your staff and producer to be professional and not a ridiculous fanboy nightmare to work with. How much they care about the work is another story. If the project isn't any good, they'll have a hard time recruiting talented staff to work on it, particularly these days, with everyone being so busy. If they consider it a well-paid waste of time, they may subcontract significant chunks of the creative work to cheaper countries (like Korea or China) without telling you directly. They use those countries for the less creative parts of making every anime anyway.

Usually when one person is trying to get an anime made themselves, it's the artist doing the actual animating that's trying to will the film into existence: Makoto Shinkai's early films, or Hiroshi Harada's gore-fest Midori would be examples of that. The only time people HIRE anime studios to make something that big is as part of an organized, professional attempt at making something with commercial, marketing or propaganda value, usually with a strategy in mind. It's too expensive otherwise. People don't blow that kind of money to make something without some sort of strategy or corporate structure in place. Even when the idea is a bad one, the person has started a corporation, hired a few people, and has recruited a few partner companies to follow along.

The closest thing I can think of to an outright vanity project anime being produced by someone out-of-pocket would be Madhouse's production of Glenn Danzig's pilot video for his comic series "Satanika" back in 1998, but even that was as part of his comic book company, and was used to try and get funding for a series that never happened. I suppose it's possible for a rich person to blow a huge amount of money getting their anime idea made without any regard for its commercial strategy, if the price was right. That said, all of the anime studios are booked solid for the next 3 years, so they wouldn't be getting to it anytime soon.

Jordan asks:

While surfing through Netflix, I notice some anime shows are labeled as Netflix Original, which indicate that they came from Netflix, like House of Cards and Narcos. However, some anime shows, such as Fate/Apocrypha and Little Witch Academia, were originally aired in Japan but are still labeled as Netflix Original. Why does Netflix label anime shows as Original, despite that they were aired in Japan?

Pretty simple, really. Netflix acts like a TV network. No matter how involved they are in production, Netflix doesn't own any of these shows outright: not Stranger Things, not House of Cards, and not any of the anime. They may own a portion, but they are the powerful broadcast partner, not the show's producers, and usually the master rights holder is the studio that produced it. What Netflix pays for is exclusive rights to the show for a specific time in a specific area. Those rights will probably expire at some point.

So, Little Witch Academia is not significantly different from other "Netflix Originals." The term is simply how they brand their exclusives, even if they're not necessarily worldwide exclusives. The fact that a small subset of its customers are savvy enough to know that the show already premiered with another broadcaster in another country doesn't change that.

Ruben asks:

are some mangaka forced to make spin-off or say that certain things are part of the canon of the series they created like for example: Boruto, Dragon Ball Super. Because this for me because they advertise that the authors are controlling the series but when the finish product is done is underwhelming, it shows that the author isn't really in control, is this false advertising like they usually do with Anime Trailers and Movies?

Very successful manga artists have way more power than people give them credit for. The publisher and their editors might REALLY WANT them to make more of a franchise, but I can tell you that absolutely nobody was holding a gun to Akira Toriyama's head and demanding that he come up with a framework for Dragon Ball Super. He, Masashi Kishimoto, Eiichiro Oda and any manga artist that successful are rich, powerful, and can do whatever they want.

Dragon Ball, One Piece and Naruto are all gigantic money-making machines, and once you're used to making that kind of money, taking a significant pay cut once those shows end is a gigantic bummer for everyone. Aside from money, the success and status of being the creator of a major current show that people are really really into is a really cool thing, and there can be a lot of internal pressure to keep that going, even if the artist has said all they really wanted to say and accomplished everything with the story that they set out to accomplish. And so, they keep going, even if the end product isn't quite to the level of what came before. Anime and manga creation are often cynical enterprises, just like the rest of the entertainment business.

Anarghya asks:

In animes a lot, I notice that many characters think about what to make for dinner and then go to the store before going home to buy groceries for the night. Is it common to just buy groceries for the day or do people "stock up"? Ex: Like how in America, people will buy groceries for 1-2 weeks at a time.

Grocery shopping 1-2 weeks in advance is actually more of an American thing than anything else. If you're buying all of your groceries that far in advance, chances are you're not eating much fresh food: vegetables and fruit would go bad in that time, as would most fresh meats and fish. (Fish in particular usually only keeps for a few days.) That such a pattern is so common in the US is more a reflection of our food system (which has to resort to freezing and processing things to overcome huge distances) and our own poor eating habits. Even the UK, which is barely different from the US in many respects, stocks far more fresh food than our own supermarkets do.

Grocery shopping in Japan is also less of a hassle in most places, simply because neighborhoods are extremely walkable. Stopping at the small local grocery store isn't a big deal because you can just pop in on your way home to pick up the day's fresh food, and it takes maybe five minutes to do so. There's no drive, no parking, no tracking down a shopping cart, and no careful loading of a hundred pounds of groceries into the trunk.

The Japanese diet is way, way, WAY healthier than ours, with its abundance of vegetables, fish and rice. That's a major reason Japanese life expectancy is still the highest in the world. (The US is #31, with the average American dying a full four years earlier than the average Japanese.) These numbers are according to 2015 data from the World Health Organization.

Abdulrahman asks:

Do manga artists have to approve every single figure from there series before they are released? As in approve that the figure fits the artists original vision for the character?

Officially yes, that's supposed to happen. The original creator has the right to approve and/or sign off on everything related to that series, even including packaging. In practice, however, it's often done by the artist's representative: a manager or something like that. For less powerful manga artists (newer, younger talent, for example), this is often the publisher. There have been many things over the years that was supposed to be approved by the manga artist that weren't. The artist finds out about it months or years later and is none too happy.


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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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