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Watch & Learn Q&A -- 3/8/2012

Answering more community questions with utter seriousness.

Answering you lunatics’ questions last week for that special W&L mailbag/Q&A/AMA was a big ol’ barrel of fun and, lo and behold, here are more Q’s to pair with some A’s. Like I’ve said, I’d love to make this a regular feature, so go on and drop some more questions into this thread - - I'll answer just about anything and hopefully we can keep this going.

Now, onto this week’s Q’s…

buhssuht: What is your favorite genre?

Hm. Tough to say. I like to think I’ve got some diverse tastes. It depends on how precise you want to get about classifications and such. “Heroic sci-fi action-adventure” is a wide umbrella, you know?

buhssuht: After seeing and reading different genres, what is one genre that you cannot understand or cannot like?

Whatever genre HETALIA falls in with.

Aside from that, I think there’s usually at least one good offering out of any genre or sub-genre. I do have a hard time critiquing any material intended for a demographic I’m not a part of - - specifically shojo like BLACK BIRD that’s specifically designed for teen girls. I can always respect the artistry and the craft and what have you, but it’s hard for me to widen my mind enough to evaluate such material objectively. All I can end up doing it throw up my arms and say, “It wasn’t made for me.”

Emeryl: Could one reason why you aren't particularly fond of chibi/super-deformity in anime come from your background in American comics, because I can't think of a single instance of any person in comics being deformed? I see chibi as a way to show comedic emotion, like Ed's reaction to being called short. If you could, what would you replace chibi with to try to convey the same meaning, or would you just get rid of it altogether?

Well, how do you define being deformed? When Jerry bashes Tom in the head with a frying pan, the cat might scrunch down like a slinky or turn as rigid as a pole. You don’t generally see that happen in something like SIN CITY, though, even though the book's outrageously over-the-top and expressionistic.

There’s a whole slapstick vocabulary of body language and facial expressions Ed could use when he’s getting flustered that’d get the point across just as clearly as him going chibi. There were worse instances of this in FMA, though, like when you’d have Mustang, Hawkeye and some other State Alchemists somberly discussing genocide on the battlefield until one of them suddenly turns into a chicken-scratch paper doll to totally kill the mood.

I think BAKUGAN (the manga, at least) offered a more agreeable alternative. When the characters did this same sort of antics, they’d get a little rubbery, but the quality of rendering wouldn’t suddenly drop. And I’d say the intended emotions were conveyed more effectively that way than they were by flailing histrionics, too.

cynically_happy: What with your positive reaction to TIGER & BUNNY Japan's take on superheroes I'm curious, are there any other American ideas or themes that you would want to see Japan's spin on? Any Japanese tropes you'd like to see an American take on?

No American themes spring to mind, but one of you lunatics suggested a while ago that Frank Herbert’s DUNE novels would be interested to see as anime and I’d tend to agree. That mythos is so complex in its ideas and its visuals that it’s been infamously difficult to adapt on screen. I feel like a 26-episode mega-series (or several) might be the only way to capture that intricate universe in all its uncompromising detail while still having enough of an “effects budget” to depict the fantasy just as grandly as the text describes. If it didn’t work, even in an anime, then that’d really be the final proof that some novels simply can’t adapted.

As for the other way, my first choice would be to see a shonen fighter with American sensibilities; a long-form comic that’s got a comfortable enough position to commit to charting the ascendance of a hero through a mythos that’s composed on the run. Something that unapologetically embraces its batting impulse. Then again, I suppose those familiar superhero universes are what you’d get if you put NARUTO, BLEACH and ONE PIECE into the same sandbox and let them all run for another few decades, so maybe there’s not as much of a separation. Still, there’s a bit of a romance to getting involved with an open-ended heroic adventure from the ground up, as it's something you rarely get to do stateside.

Halberdierv2: Well Tom, what do you think of the Jump big three (NARUTO, BLEACH and ONE PIECE,) and how would you compare it to the series that you have watched over the past few years? what do the shows you've watched have that The Shounen Jump shows don't?

The lengths are a bit daunting. Godlen’s also handling the weekly coverage of each, so there’s no sense in me intruding on something he’s already doing so well.

At a glance - - and mostly just a glance - - NARUTO and ONE PIECE just a skew a little younger than I’d need for me to get interested enough to keep seeking out. BLEACH’s death mythos just doesn’t grab my imagination.

Maybe this answers flies in the face of the last one, but that’s because I’m thinking of old-school shonen titles like DBZ and YU YU HAKUSHO (the one that’s specifically on my mind.) The ones that seemed a lot brawnier by comparison.

zaldaron March 8, 2012 at 5:18 p.m.

hmm the things you want anime to do to be more like american comics (decades superhero shows) are what I am glad they don't do. Shonen like the ones you didn't like are the cloeset they come though. Bleach is going to have a crazy number of episodes when it is done. Didn't all of YuYu have like 500 or so?

AURON570on March 8, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.

Have you guys read the wiki entry for Black Bird? It's kind of adorable.. I'd actually be kind of sad if anyone changed it.

jewuniton March 8, 2012 at 11:16 p.m.

The discussion of Dune and anime reminds me of the "next time on" segments for the first Hellsing series. Seras was using a gun called the Harkonnen and the "spirit" of the gun would describe the next episode following the credits. This spirit, besides its name, bears a resemblance to a member of the Hakonnen family from the Dune.

Anyway, I agree that it would be cool to see anime series roll out in the style of Dune. Even series like One Piece that account for every place and character seem to miss the scope of generations that Dune provides. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure does account for its generations of characters, but the characters and environment lack the uniqueness and intrigue that Dune has. I imagine it is a difficult task to line up those generations of characters into a story that remains cogent throughout its telling. It is a high barrier of entry even for people with significant ambition.

Mezmeroon March 9, 2012 at 8:48 a.m.

Getting into any one of the big 3 can be a daunting endeavor. As far as watching any of the shows it really comes down to how invested you are in the production side of things. I never read new chapters of One Piece purely because the production value of the show is so ludicrously high. The art and the writing are certainly what make any good manga adpatation but if not for the amazing voice work of the Japanese cast, an extraordinary orchestral score, and spot-on coloring treatment I wouldn't like it nearly as much. I'm perfectly happy to wait a week to see a high quality 20 minute production than to get a single chapter that I could finish reading in like 3 minutes. I have seen a fair amount of Naruto and as cool as the story can be the pacing is down right atrocious. I dropped off big time on that one.

You could always try reading them since you're into comic books unless color is a big deal to comic dudes. I must have read a couple dozen chapters of both Bleach and Naruto and found them to be far more pleasant than the corresponding anime. Sadly I feel like they both kind of lose their charm in basically same ways that DBZ did. Let's just say that I think the character development is poorly handled. The only manga I really read any more is Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. Just know going into any (or possibly all) of these series you could very well be driven insane like myself.

tristenkw5on March 10, 2012 at 8:03 a.m.

@zaldar: Yu Yu is only like 120 eps if memory serves. Still a lot, yes, but not nearly as daunting as the big three.

Yeah, I fell off of Naruto Shippuden (waiting for the dub to at least get to the end of the Pain saga) and Bleach (didn't feel like watching through the filler after Grimjow's fight) and the One Piece dub quit being shown on TV, although I never paid much attention to it anyway.

What I will say about Naruto though is it's more mature than it looks on the surface, and even if it starts a little young minded it quickly ratchets up, especially once you hit the second series after the time jump. I'd say Naruto and Yu Yu are on equal ground maturity wise. It's just that Yusuke doesn't yell "Believe it!" a bunch and that automatically makes him seem less like a kid.

zaldaron March 11, 2012 at 7:37 p.m.

@tristenkw5: yea but YuYu is about as mature as professional wrestling so....;).

Still for pure action and adventure I watch a few random episodes of bleach or naruto every once in awhile. The episodes where naruto summons the king of the frogs and things get supper over the top crazy are favorites of mine.

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