For whatever reason, tying off this latest Watch & Learn sampling session feels like a good enough milestone to take a moment or two to reflect. Between my columns here, the content I make for Whiskey at large and my other endeavors, I'm juggling a lot and, as such, I don't really get enough time to respond to talkbacks on most of the material I produce on this site. However, it's important to interact with users - - you lunatics make the site, after all - - so I figured that doing a special W&L as a mailbag/Q&A/AMA to specifically focus on doing just that would be an efficient compromise.
These Q's were taken from this thread. If you still want to have yours answered, go ahead and put it on the thread. I'd like to make this a semi-regular thing like Ramblin' Rorie at Screened. As you can seen, I'll answer just about anything as thoroughly as I can.
sotyfan16: By now you've watched a number of shows for AV and your own personal pleasure. Are there any series you watched the sub and then the dub? Vice versa? Do you play out the differences in your reactions to different scenes in distinguishing your feelings about each?
I’m not a purist. There are good dubs and bad subs. I’ll still assert that the sub isn’t always the best answer because the translation team can get away with a sub-title that reads awkwardly and doesn’t work with English idioms at all, and then move along without thinking twice about it. An ADR team, however, must go through the extra step of actually trying to say all the lines aloud.
I started watching FMA: BROTHERHOOD dubbed and then switched to subbed simply because I ran of dubbed episodes on YouTube. The difference was honestly negligible, but it did sound weird hearing voices different than the ones I’d grown used when I saw SACRED STARS OF MILOS in English.
FLCL and BACCANO! were both series that were so dense with information that picking dub over sub was a matter of intelligibility. I’m a fast enough reader, but it was just impossible to keep up with the text in both those and keep their stories straight without having to re-watch them.
I recently saw PRINCESS MONONOKE subbed after years of watching it dubbed. I haven’t decided which experience was better, but they certainly had different feels. The sub felt more… stoic than the more fairy tale tone of Neil Gaiman’s translation in the dub. It really came down to the one line where Ashitaka states his mission. In the sub, it’s to “See with eyes unclouded.” In the dub, it’s to “See with eyes unclouded by hate.” Two words that have a large effect on the tone of the whole picture, and neither option’s necessarily better.
damswedon: What do you want from the Anime you watch or the Manga you read?
In my estimation, manga and Euro comics are the two, opposite poles of decompression and compression in sequential art. Now, I’m starting to think that anime and American shows are also opposite poles, but in respect to inspiration and execution. That is, my #1 turn-off in Western entertainment is re-dos of stories I’ve already seen many times before and stories that are content to play only with tired, worn-out concepts. It honestly disenchants me whenever writers, directors, et al, almost relish in how they didn’t have the imagination to even look beyond the lowest hanging conceptual fruit.
However, you can generally count on even unoriginal shows being at least competently executed in respect to structure and character arcs, etc.
I’ve found anime to be the opposite, on the whole. Shows will have out-of-the-box ideas that have never been done before, sure, but the innovation can be at the expense of storytelling basics.
Sooooo… at this point, I suppose I’m less interested in the anime/manga I consume having fresh and novel concepts - - since that’s really a given. I look for stuff that knows how to tell a story instead of just build a world or prove a concept. It’s why I thought TIGER & BUNNY was a much better show than [C] – CONTROL. The latter had a mind-bending concept that’d never been done before - - the global recession personified in a digital shadow world! - - but it bit off way more than it even knew how to chew.
On other hand, I could spot and identify all the superhero comics TIGER & BUNNY took every single one of its ideas from, but I still loved the series because it focused on its characters, it had a sense of humor about itself, it was quickly paced and, more importantly, it actually resolved everything its set-up in a satisfying way.
In short, what I want out of manga and anime is the opposite of what I want from the Western equivalents.
Bigheart711: Out of every anime you've seen and talked about in your Watch and Learn articles, which ones did you like, but would not recommend to anyone that's new to anime (and why)?
Tricky shows like YAMADA’S FIRST TIME and VAMPIRE BUND were actually entertaining, for what they were, but they aren’t shows I can recommend, least of all to somebody without the necessary perspective.
The EVA rebuilds and the new FMA movie are all solid flicks, but they really miss their stated intention of appealing to new fans.
takashichea: Any manga adaptations that you're dying to see it animated?
Eh… not really. Generally, if a story impresses me enough in print, I feel like it’s best served in that medium. That’s the ultimate expression of it. You know, you don’t walk from a kickass song and think it’d be so much better if somebody else covered it.
takashichea: What was your most popular Watch and Learn articles?
EVANGELION. That had the highest talkbacks. People are still arguing about the mysteries and merits of that show.
chickdigger802: Favorite format for anime viewing? DVD, VHS, Bluray, Streaming, 'gray zone'?
DVDs. I spend enough time on the computer already, and I think Blu-Ray’s kind of a scam.
PenguinDust: Do you believe your perception of anime has changed since you began the Watch & Learn series as well as being the principle Whiskey Media staff member at Anime Vice? When you began, you seemed only rudimentarily familiar with the medium but you were eager to learn. Over time, you watched a considerable number of shows... enough to have gained a better perspective than when you started. My concern would be the noticeable fatigue your reflections have displayed over the last few months. Is that because you've developed a suppositional distaste for many genres within anime and you're tired of having to sit through another half-hour of something you have little interest in and then write about it?
Well, I was never a total anime “noob.” I grew up in Asia watching DORAEMON, CAPTAIN HARLOCK and DBZ (years before it ever came to America, even) and got thick into titles like VISION OF ESCAFLOWNE, RECORD OF LODOSS WAR, MACROSS, JIN-ROH, AKIRA, VAMPIRE HUNTER D and assorted Ghibli movies in my early-to-mid teens because there was a tape store around my family’s summers vacation spot that had a great anime selection. However, that store closed and the one at home didn’t have any anime, and I didn’t jump on the Toonami bandwagon, so I had a dry spell for a few years that made getting deeper into anime something on my “to do” list.
Writing for the site has allowed me to scratch that notch off the list a lot more thoroughly than I ever could’ve imagined. The amount of anime I watch has increased exponentially since I’ve started here - - so much so that I rarely ever watch movies or TV in my free time unless there’s an ulterior motive (either I need to research it, or I know somebody involved, or somebody in my family really wants to go, etc.) When you get to that point, it’s hard not to look at the viewing experience as work, even though it’s good work to have.
I don’t know if my sense of this stuff has changed so much as it’s just been more deeply. Writing for all these sites has just shown me how fanbases tend to have this sort of “Green Eggs and Ham” attitude that dismisses and belittles what other fanbases like whilst ignoring the obvious commonalities they share. That goes for movie buffs who won’t watch an anime feature, gamers who won’t read manga and otaku who won’t touch American comics with the misguided idea that all these things are fundamentally different.
People have a hilarious tendency to pick their sandboxes and stay in them, and I’m glad that writing for this site continually puts me out of the one I would’ve stayed in - - even if I’m not always enthralled with what I find.
PenguinDust: Based off what you've experienced since beginning the Watch & Learn series, what assumptions do you bring when you start a show? So, when you sit down to watch a show, what are your expectations and misgivings? Given the knowledge you now have to draw on, does your outlook for an anime form very early or even before you begin a show? Have your tastes been altered at all through your exposure to anime?
Well, I’ve gotten a better sense of what I don’t like - - chibi, trickiness, HETALIA, artless and excessive T&A, humorless shows about humorless, amnesiac child assassins, shows that seem to be set at the same private high school I’ve seen dozens of times before.
Honestly, one part of this job I enjoy so much is that I’ll pop a DVD into my XBOX and have very little idea of what to expect. I’ll have a good sense of what I’m getting after the first episode, sure, but I don’t carry any of the preconceptions and expectations I have when watching Western stuff. I prefer that purer experience, at moment, because it’s incredibly rare that I can walk into anything produced stateside and not have a pretty solid guess as to how it’ll turn out.
Actually, this ties back in to the first question. I look at this as being like day-in, day-out research for my own writing; a project that puts me back in touch with what it’s like to be a fresh member of the audience. With everything I watch here, I get better a sense of how a show succeeds or fails at bringing strangers into its world.