April 08, 2008

Author on Lawson

Saw this, and at this point I'd rather open up my own stomach than go back to yet another Minoru Shiraishi video extra that has to be done before morning... Lawson comments about people's general lack of knowledge about anime, the conflation of studio brand name with quality, and Author smacks him a bit for letting the ego show. Well, we're all about ego here! ;p

Seriously, though, of course fans don't know anything about the business aspects of anime. They're totally opaque to the observer. There is no place from which a wise and learned seeker of truth can pick up on that information. Those who know will not talk to you. Not just "about that" - they probably won't talk to you period. Hey, if you've been in the industry for a decade, you know better than to talk to damned anime fans... there's nothing but abuse in it, and you can't tell them anything good anyway, so why bother?

Hell, it's not like my knowledge of what's going on is encyclopedic either. I have just enough of a clue to appreciate my no-clue, if you know what I mean...

Really, who cares whether people are properly appreciating the creative minds behind the work? Sure, there's going to be a few names that stick in the head, people who have a distinctive style that just clicks with you (or, alternatively, doesn't); outside of that, it's trivia. Nobody cares who directed DN Angel any more than they care if I subtitled a show, Shoko translated it, or Chris Borque ran the audio mix. Not that none of these things matter to the final quality of the show, but don't kid yourself into thinking that it matters to the people buying the show.

At the end of the day, most anime is overwhelmingly dependent on the quality of the source material from which it springs; even if it diverges from, or considerably fills out that material, the imprint is still upon it, as it were. It is very, very difficult to make a good show out of a crap manga. So of course people know more about the sources - that information is a great deal more useful for the primary purpose of knowing that kind of information, which is being able to predict whether a show will be any good or not!

Studio is a useful barometer as well, mostly because it tends to agglomerate several people (though, as Lawson points out, there's plenty of creative types who've worked with several different studios on different projects.) People don't like Kyoani just because it's had a few recent hits - they like it because it's taken several projects that could have been done well, or could have been done poorly, and done them well (and often in a self-aware way that lets them pull off stunts like the Nagato scene, heh.) Not only that, but it has a long series of hits with no strikeouts, which few studios other than Ghibli can boast about. So "this show is a Kyoani production" is useful information to a fan - it translates to "it has pretty good production values and a very low chance of sucking". Maybe they'll make a bunch of crap and our opinion of it will go down... but it's not like "which studio made the show" would suddenly become useless information.

Hell, if you're going to rant, why not rant about people paying attention to the domestic staff, who at least have names you can pronounce, and who you might actually be able to affect in some way? There's plenty of translators in the industry not worth their salt, and good ones on the beach because the mediocre ones have all the work. But does anybody complain? No, can't be bothered...

So yeah, what about it? Creative minds are underappreciated. Even the people who go further than the first layer or two of the onion never really get close to the center (the ugly meat of the business reality that lies at the heart of a project... or is supposed to, heh.) That's life. It's not going to be helped. There's not even anything wrong with it, really - we're watching anime, not writing a doctoral dissertation on Eva.

And back to the silly voice actor who's become his own meme, jumping up and down and singing for the audience's... delight...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at 12:00 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 736 words, total size 4 kb.

1 To clarify, I don't think there's anything wrong with your average fan having minimal knowledge of the business of anime, but if you're the sort of fan who regularly engages in criticism of the business of anime and the people and entities involved in its production, it would be beneficial to know a little bit about how the industry works. And while the arcane details of how the industry works can often be difficult to ascertain without knowing the right people, there's still a lot that's simple common sense. All it takes is a little bit of research, some thought, and a tiny bit of rudimentary business knowledge to make sense of the fundamentals. Nor is all that difficult to figure out who are what was responsible for a certain aspect of a production. That information is readily available.

Anyway, my original comment on the subject was indeed a bit ranty - I had been in contract negotiations all day, so I must of had some bile to release - and Pete's response triggered a brief fit of cognitive dissonance, but I stand by what I wrote. However, at the same time, I understand and agree with what you've written, Avatar, and recognize that you have more insight into the inner workings of the anime industry than I do.

And I'll have to e-mail Pete later today and commend him for his first-class trolling.

Posted by: Jeff Lawson at April 08, 2008 11:09 AM (+hPIb)

2 I understand the sentiments, given that they're highly similar to how I feel after an evening of working on unnecessarily-complicated extras. ;p

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at April 08, 2008 11:46 AM (LMDdY)

3 I fear an evening with Minoru Shiraishi would drive me to murder.

Posted by: Jeff Lawson at April 08, 2008 12:02 PM (6ti30)

4 Actually, he himself isn't too bad (and there's some amusing parts, such as when the producer attempts to convince him that he ought to quit voice acting and get a real job.)

The nasty part is that the extras are -full- of comments pasted up over the video, some funny, mostly inane. It's not that translating them is hard, but it does mean that virtually every subtitle is overlapping with one or more of the things... so twelve minute extras are coming out with over 400 sub pictures, which is about the average full-length ep of Nanoha or 2/3 of a Lucky Star ep. Not so good when you're paid by the video minute!

It's just more work than it's really worth, at the end of the day, but you can't just NOT do it. Personally, I'm hoping that after these three extras, we'll have no more Adventures of Shiraishi to worry about in future volumes...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at April 08, 2008 04:26 PM (LMDdY)

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