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 Barbara Speaks Out!

This page is certainly out of date. I'm going to add some miscellaneous things here.

 Barbara's Surprise Party Paradox

First, my infamous paradox. I thought this paradox up in high school. For a long time I thought that I was the original author of this type of paradox, but eventually I discovered that it is only one of a class of paradoxes based on the concept of expectation. See this article.

So, today is Tuesday, and my birthday was coming up this week, and my friend Gloria said, "When is your business trip?" I reply with the truth:

"I'll be on the road beginning next Monday morning, and won't be back for weeks. You're asking because you intended to give me a surprise party, right?"

She says, "Right! I'm giving you a surprise party!"

I say, "It won't be much of a surprise."

She says, "Yes it will, because you won't know what day to expect it. I have all week, through Sunday, so it might happen any evening at all. You'll be surprised."

I think a second. "Actually, it won't be a surprise at all. You can't possibly pick a night to surprise me with a party."

She says, "How's that?"

I reply, "You can only give me a party before I leave on my trip. So it has to be tonight, Tuesday, or one of the other nights: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Right?"

She says, "Right. You have no way of knowing which day it will be, so it'll be a surprise."

I continue: "Surprising me is impossible. Consider the days which are available. Let's start with Sunday night. That's the last night you can give me a party, since I'll be leaving Monday morning. If you have not given me a party by Sunday, I'll know to expect one Sunday night. So it won't be a surprise if you wait until then."

She frowns. "Ok, I won't give a party Sunday night. It has to be a surprise. But that still leaves the other 5 nights as possibilities."

I say, "Does it? We eliminated Sunday night as a possibility. So the last night you could give me a party would be Saturday night. But if Saturday comes along and you haven't given me a party yet, I'll know to expect it Saturday, since Sunday wouldn't work. So Saturday, too, is eliminated as a possibility. You can't choose Saturday."

Now she's definitely looking worried. She says, "But then that would leave Friday as the last possible evening, and using the same logic we can eliminate Friday too. And Thursday, Wednesday, and even tonight, Tuesday..."

I say, "Now you understand. We eliminated all days from our list of possibilities, so there's no day left when you can give me a party which would be a surprise. And what good is a surprise party that is expected?"

She says, "But... but... that's counterintuitive."

I say, "It's totally logical."


   Well, I have strong opinions, and I often relentlessly bring them
up in mail groups.   Bear in mind, that just because I think something
is so, doesn't mean I'm right.  But perhaps there's something here
of interest, if you are interested in anime, fansubs, or such...

(This is basically a collection of short informal essays in Q/A format...)

Q: Aren't you excited about DVD?
A:    Not really.  I must have an eye that sees motion artifacts easily.
For me, DVD is just not acceptable.  I can't stand the awful
moving-object artifacts ("exploding heads") and the annoying "boiling
backgrounds" that DVD puts in the picture.  They drive me crazy.  And I
find lots of people that can't see it -- I point to it right on the
screen and they can't see it.  They tell me that DVD is terrific, but
I'd only use it for slideshows myself.  I guess those people will buy
DVD and be happy with it, and I'll continue to buy LD's.  Or even
   And it's not my imagination either.  I saw it in "Apollo 13" for
instance fairly badly, mostly with flesh tones becoming very grainy when
a person is moving, and seeing the digitization noise in subtle shading
like clouds, and the big sparkling fuzz that moving objects turn into,
and the bubbly shimmering in muted backgrounds, and lots more.
   I've spent years looking closely at the video I'm working
with, and my eye might be more critical than most.  But it certainly
isn't my imagination!
  For me, DVD's increase in still-picture resolution is not enough to
make up for the artifacts, digitization noise, color noise, and movement
interpolation that happens, all of which is very visible if you know how
to look.
    I think most people only judge video quality by still frame
resolution.  When they start noticing moving-object resolution losses,
they will see what I see.
  Maybe they will learn to eliminate those effects.  But for me, right
now, they're really ugly and I don't like them at all.
  I have DSS -- and the artifacts there often are even worse than DVD I
think!  Especially on the "split" channels, like Encore and Encore-W.
These channels seem to have decided to make two channels out of one, by
doubling the compression.  I guess they decided it would make more money
for them.  Same story with "Starz" channels.  The reduction in quality
makes me want to cancel them now.
  Some channels thankfully have very low compression ratios, like the
Sci-Fi channel.  The video on that channel is a real pleasure to watch!
  Other channels seem to be really fine sometimes, and really awful at
other times.  Discovery is one of the ones that changes a lot.  I can't
guess why.  Maybe their channels are being shifted around or something.
Maybe part of their bandwidth is used occasionally for sports events.
  I'm a believer in digital technology, but I think it should be used to
improve quality not just quantity.  Originally DSS was stunning, but now
about half the channels are a disappointment.  That seems to be due to
the satellite carrying more channels than it has room for, and therefore
it has to reduce the bandwidth on some channels.  Obviously they found
that they could make more money by increasing the number of channels
rather than by maintaining the high quality of the channels they
carry already.  It's capitalism at its best.

Q: What do you think of Bandai creating "AnimeVillage" and releasing
"Escaflowne", "Gundam" (all of it) and "Saber Marionette J" themselves?
A:    First. let me say this: fansubbing as a widespread hobby has just
"peaked."  From this point in time, there will be fewer and fewer
great fansub series brought out in the underground.   In other words,
the "Golden Days" of fansubbing, when "Maison Ikkoku" was done,
are slipping away now.  Fansubbers will become more frustrated with
the rate of titles being marketed in the US, and abandon their projects.
Die-hard fansubbers will concentrate on niche titles (like we do)
and will become more careful how their tapes are circulated.  But
the news does NOT mean that fansubbing is "dead".
    Actually, we fansubbers may be moving slowly back to the old "norm"
where there were about 10-15 major fansubbers.  If the niche has gotten
a lot smaller, there's still a lot of anime not fansubbed.
   Some of the anime we're working on, "Bluegreen Years" for instance,
isn't even available IN JAPAN!
   Originally Gundam was not fansubbed because there weren't enough
fansubbers to do it.  Now that there are, it will get done commercially
by Bandai, who should be the best choice of companies to do it anyway.
Three cheers for the original Japanese companies!  Now we can hope for
artistic integrity!
   Of course it's rather jarring for those fansubbers who were mostly
subbing more-mainstream anime (an oxymoron in the past).  Some of them
may end up with nothing to fansub that interests them.  BUT STILL I
think if they are really interested in fansubbing, there are tons of
older anime they'd like.  If you can't fansub Escaflowne, why not do
it's artistic predecessor, "Juu-Senshi Garukiiba"?  How about the
original "Raydeen" and it's sequel series?  There are dozens of others
too.  The amount of anime that has been made in Japan is simply
amazing.  If Bandai subs all their titles, there's still TONS left.  And
we can be sure they won't bother subbing everything in their catalog.
   Please pardon me if I seem flippant.  I know how attached a fansubber
can get to their titles.  (I would be heartbroken to have to stop work
on Oniisama-E).  But I just don't think it's the end of the world.  Just
think, it can't be too long until we can watch anime on TV!
   Still, the investment in equipment and scripts can be enormous.
   Heck, the world is BIGGER THAN ANIME ITSELF!  We're beginning to
translate a Japanese soap opera, "Futari".  Not animated.  Also I'm
trying to translate the songs in a music video (a real music video done
by the artist, not by a fansubber).  We don't have to worry about having
nothing to do.
   There are great shows in other countries that never get to the US.
Some of those countries even speak European languages.  Consider how
exciting it would be to introduce people to undiscovered gems from
Italian or French TV.

Q: On a related side note, just HOW can people complain about the growing
library of titles from the legitimate anime companies??????
A: Well, I'm supposed to be the one agreeing with you.  People have
claimed I'm the white-winged angel of fansub morality.  (which is
funny, those of you who've been around here a while...)  But there's a
point to be made here too.  About "COMPLAINING".  Especially
complaining to the commercial anime companies.
  Where is my "Urusei Yatsura"???  How many years do you think I'll have
to wait to buy the last volume, subbed?  Yes, I bought them all, so far.
Old promises just get exchanged for new ones.  Still no tapes.
   So as usual, a big series gets bought, and only the first 6 tapes get
released, and the rest of the series goes into a permanent limbo - can't
fansub it, can't buy it in English.  (UY had 18 tapes, not bad but not
even halfway.) The only thing to do is to learn Japanese. Yes I'm doing
that too, but that's not the point.  And yes, we don't have the right to
watch that last episode like an inalienable right of citizenship, but we
DO have the right to complain that once licensed, that anime's last
episode may forever be untranslated.  We have the right to complain
about that.  Politically correct or not.  And why not?  This is anime,
after all.  Unlike American TV, anime series are usually very complete
stories.  That means they have beginnings, middles, AND conclusions.
We're not seeing enough conclusions.  We're missing the best parts.
   So, let's see, how about Ranma episode 161?  How many have seen it?
In English?  Do you seriously think Viz will release it?  Be honest! No,
I think they will NOT release it.  (Unless they skip a lot of intervening
episodes and do some sort of "best of" approach, which is nearly what
they are doing now -- have you noticed how hard it is to tell what the
real episode numbers are for the episodes collected together on each
dubbed tape?)
   Too many companies have no intention of releasing the entire series,
even though they buy the entire series.  This is defensive marketing.
It makes it impossible for a competitor to tack-on later episodes whose
total non-recurring expenses per episode were lower than those original
episodes, due to not needing the same marketing and advertising
   Then there is the problem with the subbed versions not existing -- or
if they exist, being packaged as "collector's limited editions" at high
prices (because the fansub fans will pay it) -- and only for the most
profitable early episodes too.
   And anime licenses being bought in "packages" -- with the "trash"
thrown away, unfansubbed, unmarketed, and unwatchable.  Don't
hold your breath for the subbed version of Ponpoko from Disney...
There's reason to suspect that new fans will never see it in English.
What a waste.

   So "how can we complain" that a series was licensed?  Because

  (1) Now we probably won't be able to see the ending!
  (2) It isn't subtitled!
  (3) If it is subtitled, we feel victimized at being charged 50% more
just because we're fans.
  (4) We can't watch it at all, because the company is just sitting on
the license.  In 15 years maybe we can fansub it.
  (5)  They are packaging the series as one 25-minute episode per
tape for $14.99 each!  Who has that much shelf space??  I refuse to
buy any anime tape with less than 45 minutes of material.  You should
too.  These companies need to know when they've GONE TOO FAR.

   Supporting our commercial anime companies is one thing.  NOT
complaining when these anti-fan problems happen is another.  MAKE SURE
YOU COMPLAIN!  Or nothing will change!  They don't want mindless fans
who just walk away from their products.  They want to know what's
happening.  If we aren't going to buy their tapes because of how they
were produced, we need to let them know how badly they blew it. They may
not be clever enough to figure that out themselves from the sales
figures.  After all, we've heard them say too many times "it was because
of the fansubbing."  Or "the market wasn't there."  When they say that
they're blaming YOU -- or at least they're blaming the market.  Like
most businesses (and people) they'd rather not have to blame
themselves.  If they could have done it so you would have paid money for
the tapes, they should know how they messed up.  Just because a greedy
company paid money for the license doesn't make them immune to being
charged with bad dubbing, non-subbing, and vicious accountant-driven
marketing strategies and pricing policies.
   Sometimes they buy a license and we all cheer.  Sometimes we don't.
There are good reasons why some people complain, and let's not shut them
up, but instead complain along with them, and forward critical letters
to anime companies, and in general force them to acknowledge what
they're doing.

Q: Another "Brother Dear Brother" tape is done!  Jumping for joy!
A:  Wow, I guess you are glad it's done!  It was an enormous amount of
work, as usual, but really rewarding.
   One of the fun things about being a fansubber is that right after you
announce a new fansub, you suddenly get email from dozens of clubs and
individuals.  I got email from Australia, Canada, Finland, England, and
the Netherlands all on the same day inquiring about this tape.
  After so many hours of editing, I find that I'm in a head space in
which I can write "image quotes."  So here are some for your
entertainment.  Now the characters in Oniisama-E will respond to your

[Miya-sama speaks]  Whether you worship us or not, is none of my
concern.  As long as you obey.

[Kaoru-no-Kimi] Hey, now.  Enough of the nonsense.  It's just a video!

[Saint-Juste-sama]  Each night, one voice cries out.  It cries out for
more Oniisama E.  It cries out with a hunger which can never be
satisfied.  Heed its cries.

[Misonoo Nanako] My Dear Brother... some time has passed, and now there
are many who have watched our tapes.  Though I know I shouldn't, I
sometimes feel some pride in being part of Oniisama-E.  I suppose that
makes me vain, but I can't help it.  If you wish, you can call me a
vain, prideful, foolish girl.

[Shinobu Mariko]  It's just so grand!  I mean, isn't it thrilling!  To
be here with Miya-sama, and Nanako-san, and especially Kaoru-no-Kimi.
I'll never forget this!  I'm simply in heaven!

[Arikura Tomoko]  Don't ask me, I'm just the sidekick.  My job is to
laugh at Nanako's jokes.  Except that she never makes any jokes!  I
swear!  That girl just has NO sense of humor.  She takes
everything too seriously.  The only thing that's funny about her is her
cooking.  Maybe I should try tickling her more...

Q: The Technogirls usual fonts are freakin huge...
...but the subtitles are low and away from characters as much as possible.
A:  I guess you're saying that our fonts are too big, and they cover too
much of the screen, but at least they stay low and avoid covering faces
as much as possible.
   We get a few comments like that sometimes.  Our tapes are definitely
in the "large font" end of the spectrum, as opposed to say Anime
Central's very tiny fonts...
   While they may look enormous to you on your large TV while watching a
clean, low gen tape, we also get a lot of comments like "Your tapes were
the only ones whose subtitles were readable in the projection room." and
"I want to replace my 4th gen SLP copy of Romeo 1-4 with a 1st gen one
-- but I thought you might want to know that of all the tapes I got that
were copied that much, yours was one of the few that the subtitles were
still readable."
   Each anime show has an "active area" where they will position
closeups.  This means the area from the mouth to the tops of the eyes.
When you subtitle, observe the placement of the closeups and you'll see
that they stay within this "allowed rectangle".  Each show has a
different "closeup rectangle".  It is the subtitler's job to locate the
rectangle and keep the subtitles out of it.
   In some shows, the "closeup rectangle" overlaps the area that MUST be
used for subtitles, regardless of font size.  In those cases, a
fansubber can consider "dodging".  This is where a second subtitle zone
is created, one which won't cover the mouth.  Then, the new zone is used
whenever the extreme closeups overlap the normal subtitle zone.  For
examples of "dodging" see our tapes of "Zetsuai-89" and "Brother Dear
Brother" 13-16 which I think are where we did it the most.
   All I'm trying to say is that making the font smaller isn't the only
way to cope with text covering up the part of the anime you want to see,
like closeups.

Q: How do commercial anime companies view the role of fansubbers?
A:  In general, they are grateful for the role that fansubbing has
historically had in opening up the US market to new genres of
   A few individuals in the industry often have very negative anti-fansubbing
views, however --  despite the historical evidence of the benefits of
an active fansubbing underground.  We've heard many times of an anime
company saying "We aren't going to buy the rights to XYZ anime, because it
has been heavily fansubbed already, and therefore it won't have a large
enough market to be profitable."  In every case we know of where this
rationale has been used, exactly the opposite has been true.  In other words,
the "heavy fansubbing" that occurred was actually the best indication that
show XYZ was marketable and had profit potential!  For example: one
company passed over a show called "Project A-Ko" whose fansubs were
circulating in every college campus in the US, saying that it probably
was already "fansubbed to death."  So a competing company finally bought
the rights to "Project A-Ko" and the show ended up being the second
most profitable anime show ever produced in the US.
    One of the most significant protections the market has against being
damaged by fansubbing is that the commercial market is about 85% or more
dubbed animation instead of subtitled animation.   Most Americans simply
will not sit down and watch something which is subtitled.    As fans, this
seems nearly unbelievable to us.  But it's true.  An executive of one major
US anime company which produced dubbed anime only, no subtitled anime,
actually stated publicly that he approved of fansubbers subtitling the
features his company had dubbed -- because he simply wasn't selling to
that portion of the market.
   The reluctance of Americans to watch a subtitled feature, not just anime
but of any foreign language film, is a trait which I, as an American, am
ashamed of.   We already have an education system which is far too insular
and provincial in its lack of emphasis on languages, world literature,
geography, and multicultural studies.  American high schools do not even
offer useful languages in their curriculum, but instead insist on offering
the traditional Spanish, French, and German, and sometimes still even
Latin!   Students today need to have access to Japanese, Russian, Chinese,
and perhaps Korean in order to participate in the world culture!  But
I'm digressing from my topic...
   Most US anime companies do produce at least SOME subtitled features.
The great majority of fans who became fans by watching fansubs continue
to strongly prefer watching SUBTITLED anime, not dubbed.  In fact, the
news that a US company has obtained the rights to a well-loved show --
but intends to market only DUBBED tapes -- is news which elicits groans
and moans from the fansub community.   A few fansub fans consider such
a policy to be so hostile to the "true core anime fandom" that they
continue to circulate copies of fansubbed tapes of the dubbed show.
Strictly speaking, this is unethical in terms of the unspoken contract that
fansubbers have with the US animation industry.  (With the exception of
shows produced by the one US company mentioned above, which
makes dubbed tapes only for all their shows.)  However, the argument
can be made that such a US anime company has abandoned the small segment
of the US market that insists on buying subtitled anime, and who
refuse to buy any and all dubbed anime.   (Note to US anime companies:
don't underestimate how many fans fall into this category.  A dubbed-only
release is, to them, a non-release.  Many of them would actually prefer
a Japanese-only tape to an English-dubbed tape!)
    To close this essay, though, let me emphasize that justifications for
fansubbing have sometimes been used as rationalizations by bootleggers
to profiteer by making illegal copies of anime released by a North American
anime company.  As fansub fans we disavow any connection to these
pirates, and in fact most of us are all to happy to report these thieves to
the commercial companies, who are the only ones who can apply
pressure to force them to go out of business.  As fansub fans, we only
have an interest in subtitling anime which has not yet been brought to
the US market -- and especially that anime which we think will
NEVER be brought to the English-speaking world.
    Recently, fansub fans reported one such bootlegger to a US anime
company, and we were rewarded with a look at an official
"cease-and-desist" letter.  This letter is from Viz Communications, addressed
to a bootlegger who was blatantly copying and selling Viz's "Ranma" anime
titles.  Note the positive comments about fansubbing in the opening:

Q:  We all know about shonen ai, and all the angst-drenched mayhem that ensues,
but is there such a thing as shoujo-ai?
A:  This question surfaces every two months, it seems!
   I've heard girl/girl romance referred to as "yuri".  But there is
very little of it outside of hentai, porn anime strictly for boys.
   You might point to "Oniisama E" as an example of lesbian love in
Shoujo anime.  But the ambiguity there allows the viewer to fill in too
many gaps -- is this sexual, you wonder, or just emotional?  Is this a
type of hero-worship, enhanced by being too long on the edge of a
complete nervous breakdown? Or is it a true lesbian-type love showing
itself, as it does with teenage gays?
   Remember that the ideal of admiration and affection is unrestrained
by homophobia in non-Christian Japan, at least relatively speaking --
and especially among girls.  Like any ideal, it can be carried to
extremes.  So it sometimes is.  What Ikeda did, and others have done
again, was to take that situation and stretch it just a bit past the
boundaries of normality, and make it larger than conventional life, just
like everything else in this schoolgirl story.  (How many anime stories
do you know of where ordinary day-to-day events are always causing the
main characters to be in danger of serious emotional trauma or dying?  I
suspect Ikeda liked to play with the notion of how the smallest detail
can come to influence the largest destiny.) I also think Ikeda
definitely intended that at least one of the characters in Oniisama be a
bonafide lesbian teenager.  But she left the story with just enough
grounding in that respect that the Japanese viewer might be able to
convince theirself otherwise, if they really wanted to.  For us, as
Americans, it is more of a black and white situation.  For us, the word
"love" is a lot more restrictive in meanings in the context of
admiration of another's beauty, personality, charisma, ability, etc.
(Typical over-reliance on Aristotelian logic, as opposed to multivalued
Eastern thinking...)
  Our translator, Yoko Okamoto, wrote this note to me explaining her
view of one of the characters in episode 16 declaring her love for
  "Barbara - there is probably a tendency for lecherous Westerners to
misinterpret this "love" that she is falling into...    This isn't what
we know as sexual love at all.  The closest thing to it would be what we
call "Platonic" love.  But I think it's different, even, from that...
It includes admiration, and probably, a desire to emulate...  in
addition to genuine affection..."
   Yoko is probably right, partially... but I still feel that Ikeda did
intend to stretch this "love" quite past the norm Yoko mentions above,
though perhaps more in other parts of the story than in the exact
instance Yoko was commenting on here.  Yoko hasn't read the entire
story, and her comment was based on translating 16 episodes only.
   Anyway, there are other girl-girl bonds throughout anime, but they
aren't common.  Look at Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune in Sailor Moon
-- a lesbian couple.  However, their relationship doesn't become central
to the story.
   Most female readers are much more fascinated by two men in a
relationship together.  But American male anime fans aren't especially
keen on these animes for the most part.  (We know that those anime fans
requesting copies of our fansub "Song of the Wind and Trees" and
"Zetsuai 89" are at least 80% females!)  I always think that's sort of a
shame, because those male fans are missing some of the most intense art
and characterization to be found anywhere in anime.

Q: How do you do your fansub timing?
A: I use Subsonic for all the initial wave-file timing, while
advancing the video on a nearby monitor.  The reference video has the
time-stamp on it.  By looking at both at once, I have no need
(theoretically) for ever doing a second pass at all.  Of course, there
is ALWAYS something that I want to change anyway, but no massive editing
like some of you are describing!
  Sometimes I just let the scene-changes go, and do that trimming in a
second pass. It depends on how rushed I am.  But NEVER do I do any
"on-the-fly" timing of any kind.  I think it's a waste of time.

Q: Did you make Subsonic friendly for people who hate using a mouse?
A:   I'm pro-keyboard as well, so I optimized Subsonic to be run extremely
efficiently from a keyboard, even to the extent of breaking the Windows
paradigm in a couple of places.  Even the cursors on the wave file
display window are moveable by the keyboard.  When I'm timing, I don't
use the mouse at all much of the time.  It isn't as fast to learn that
way but once you've used it an hour or so you are faster than you'd be
with a mouse.  All the main movements from menu to menu are using a
combination of the enter, escape, and arrow keys.  The intra-menu
movements are based on key location, not the key letters, just like an
action arcade game.  But all the conventional mouse movements work in
the usual way, too.  There's no reason that a Windows program can't be
efficient for someone who prefers a keyboard!

Q: I've seen some fansubs that shake on some TV sets when there are bright
moments on the video, and i'm really concerned about that.... what genlocks
avoid those?
A:  IMPORTANT!  This is a common misconception.  The "shaking" of subtitles
when the overall luminance changes is due SOLELY TO THE TELEVISION SET.
What you are seeing is the failure of the power supply to maintain an
accurately steady voltage under a varying load.  When its voltage
changes, the dimensions of the screen change slightly.  This causes the
subtitles, along with all the rest of the picture, to move a bit.  It is
very annoying to see if you like watching subtitled video a lot.  To
avoid it, you need to buy a TV without a cheaply designed power supply.
They avoid telling you about these things when you buy the TV though.
You'll have to test the picture of your TV set before you buy it.  To
get a rock-solid power supply in a TV set will cost you almost a factor
of two in price over an "economy" color TV.  Even more sometimes. The
topmost units from Proscan, Hitachi, and Mitsubishi all have good
regulated power supplies, but they're expensive.  This has nothing to do
with the subtitling at all.
  If this effect bothers you, you have better eyes than most, or a worse
TV than most...!

Q:  I really dislike the RCA/Proscan TV's.
A:  I don't agree with respect to the Proscan.  We just bought a Proscan
32130 32-inch tv, $1200, and are quite impressed with it.  Its picture
definition, depth, and color accuracy are far better than any of the
Mitsubishi's of the same price -- the only Mitsubishis that I've seen
which are better are the $3000 diamond line ones.  The power supply,
while not perfect, is far more solid than nearly any of the competitive
tv's.  Proscan is the European-designed RCA and it is a brand to watch
for.  Many recent industry reviews rated it higher than the previous
best-picture sets from Hitachi.  The picture has a depth and linearity
which makes it very realistic and pleasant to watch.  We did a LOT of
comparison before buying the Proscan.

Q: Do you enjoy translating the Japanese?
A: A lot, though I don't actually do that much translation at the moment.
For instance, I got a chuckle when I worked through
Peach's "post-transformation declaration of hostility" which appears
each episode when she finally confronts the evil-doer.  It reads:
"Aitenshi Wedding Peach wa tottemo gokigen naname dewa!"
   Those of you who are Sailor Moon fans remember the analog of that
phrase, at the end of Usagi's transformation.  It was rendered as
"You're gonna get it!" or "I'll punish you!"  In this case of Sailor
Moon, the phrase used was, of all the possible Japanese phrases, the
"gentlest" way of saying "I'm going to attack/damage/hurt you!"
  This is also the case with Peach.  What she's saying is the gentlest
possible way in Japanese of saying "You've made me very angry!"
Literally, you might translate what she says as "The Angel of Love,
Wedding Peach, has definitely shifted/inclined/tilted her mood (for the
worse)!"  Ha ha ha...!  This is a lot of fun.  I swear, the more
Japanese you learn, the sillier these shows get!  I shouldn't be doing
this at 3am, I know. Another possibility: "The Angel of Love, Wedding
Peach, is now in an off mood!"  Or my favorite: "The Angel of Love,
Wedding Peach, is now almost certainly somewhat displeased!"  Any other
  So how will I render that phrase in the fansub?  Machiko suggested
"... has become very cross!"  I haven't decided.  I may even use the
literal translation above, that would be a real treat...!  You'll have
to wait and see volume 1 to find out, if you want to know.

Q: What do you think of the current boom of fansubbers?
A:  Actually, I don't consider most of them to be fansubbers at all.
Most are simply "remasterers".  They don't create a new fansub,
because they take someone else's script and use it to duplicate
a fansub which already existed.  Often this is to get trading
material, or for ego purposes perhaps.   Not making your own script for your
own fansub is a really DULL sort of thing.  Editing that script can be
more fun than mastering.  And I guarantee its more fun than timing!
Learning good editing techniques, and being willing to spend as much
time editing an episode as your translator spent translating, is a key
to getting the fullest enjoyment of this hobby.  Stealing someone else's
personalized edited script is not unlike simply copying their tape.  It
just isn't the same as birthing that baby yourself -- then you know it's

Q:  What kind of shows should be fansubbed?
A:  I think it is unethical to fansub a feature
which is certain to be released in North America.  Period.  X and
Shin-KOR should be ignored by ethical fansubbers.  Instead, dig deep and
find that 1985 copy of Orpheus to fansub -- it will never be released.
Fansub Magical Emi.  Fansub the original "Miracle Girls", a fansub which was
terrible the first time done.  In general, fansub the LONG SERIES which
American companies just are too scared to market, and won't ever be
seen.  Fansub the OLD ONES which for some reason have been passed over
by everyone already.  Fansub the CULTURE-SPECIFIC ones which only a
Japanophile would truly appreciate, because they won't be released.
Fansub the TAINTED ones, whose slight nudity or risque story elements
make it impossible to show to American Christian children, but which
aren't considered pornographic enough to be at all interesting
to adults either.  Fansub the ULTRA-SHOUJO ones which simply aren't
believed to have any audience in North America.
   I really believe that it's time fansubbers looked at themselves and
what they're doing.  There IS an anime market in the US now.  Its
growing, and partly due to college-age fandom created by tireless
fansubber efforts.  We all know what types of anime will certainly go
commercial.  Let's fansub the ones we are SURE will not -- and if we
make a mistake once in a while, no big deal.  If we do that, the
commercial companies will have little problem with us.  There is SO MUCH
ANIME to work on that has little chance in the US at all.  The amount of
anime is just staggering.  There's more than enough to keep every
fansubber busier than heck.
   Anime International has taken an active no-fansub no-copy stance
recently, especially with regard to the Internet and those who use the
  Unfortunately, that means that a few titles should be removed from
"distribution" to guarantee that AIC doesn't issue a formal complaint
against the distributor.  Prominent examples are "Bastard! Destructive
God of Darkness" (various fansubbers) and "Ninja-Mono" (Hecto).  One
which is NOT covered by AIC though is Video Girl Ai.  It would be a good
guess that VG-Ai is probably still safe.
  Note that AIC is permitting use of images from their shows in web
pages -- but only under certain conditions.  Check their web page for

Q: Where can I get information about Japanese releases?
A:   The best listing of all the Japanese LD's, even the out-of-print ones,
is an annual called "LD Daizenshuu".  You might be able to order a copy
of it from "Kino-Kuni-Ya" stores in the US. I do NOT have an ISDN number
for that book.
  The best reference for CD's (other than classical) is the catalog
"Popular CD" ("popiyuraa CD").  This 3-inch thick paperback has
everything.  It doesn't appear to have an ISDN number, at least not on
my copy.  It is updated twice yearly.
   Another excellent reference, twice a year, is "Bideosofuto" ("Video Soft").
All these are completely in Japanese of course.

Q: What do you think of "Shoujo Kakumei Utena"?
A:  This new series started on April 2nd, 1997.
  Yes, it's a shoujo show.  It's hard to describe.  Start with Rose of
Versailles.  Then add the main character from Nadia.  Then rotate the
whole thing through the looking glass in a Lewis Carroll manner and you
have it.  Nobility, swords, costumes, and a strange 'school' underneath
a spiral staircase leading to an arena floating in the sky. (mostly used
for fencing).
  The title means "Utena, Girl Revolutionary" and they conveniently give
a French translation "La Fillet Revolutionaire".
  A King Records production, this show is obviously a smorgasbord of
elements thought to be necessary for a shoujo show to succeed.  I winced
at the rather dopey humor and the silly mascot which doesn't belong in
the show, and is there just to sell plushies and UFO dolls I guess.
Some of the characterization is utterly contradictory.
  On the other hand, the art design (Versailles again...) is wonderful
to see, and the theme of revolution seems to be one with some hope.  The
second lead character is a black girl who is treated badly by
the others, and is befriended by magenta-haired Utena.  They apparently
both share the same dream of a Prince Charming but one is a Cinderella
and the other is a Joan of Arc -- almost literally, wearing men's
clothes a lot (Oscar again, and in uniform too...)  Utena is an
interesting character but she isn't totally believable.  Still, after a
while I found I liked it, though still the show isn't what I'd hoped
for.  It would be nice to see it fansubbed.  This looks like "it" as far
as new shoujo shows go this season, and that's not good, but its better
than nothing, for sure.

Q:  What are your shoujo favorites?
A: This list changes from day to day, and is quite incomplete,
but should give an idea of my tastes...
Omoide Poroporo
Mimi O Sumaseba
Oniisama E
Heroic Legend of Arislan
Five Star Stories (strictly speaking, is neither shoujo or shounen, but
the style is clearly shoujo)
Zetsuai 89 and Bronze
Fushigi Yuugi
Weathering Continent
Kaze to Ki no Uta (The Song of the Winds and Trees)
Magic Knight Rayearth

Q: I missed your explanation of the Sailor Mars incantation!
A:  Everyone is familiar with Sailor Mars incantation, "Rin! Pyo! To! Sho!
Kai! Jin! Retsu! Zai! Zen!" Nearly no anime fans in the US know what
they mean, though, aside from "some Shinto or Buddhist chant."  Thanks
to some reference material I found, I can finally dispel some of the
mystery.  This info is especially for Alex Lau, in case it might prove
useful in a Sailor Stars tape...
   This is a system of Buddhist incantation suited to the battlefield.
The warrior who has studied esoteric Buddhism makes a series of magical
passes with his hands, described by the great Master Otake as:
  "Within the content of the curriculum of Heiho (the method of the
soldier) that is to say the arts of war, we find something called "Kuji
no in", or "the inscribing of the nine letters or the nine signs."  This
practice is without a doubt part of the contribution of mystical
Buddhism to the arts of strategy.  It is part of the practical
austerities as practised in Mikkyo Buddhism which concerns itself with
mystical practices, chants and incantations.
  The nine signs make up the "Kuji no in".  If you have mastered these
and have unified your mind and body through this practice, you can use
what is called the tenth letter.  To do this you make the hand-sword by
inscribing nine lines on your hand or palm.  Each of the lines
represents one of the nine letters, and together they form a grid.
Putting one more character in the centre of ths grid is called "the
method of the tenth character" or "Tenth Letter."
  A tenth letter is inserted in the centre of the grid, one of several
particular Chinese characters which you choose in order to give yourself
aid in various situations.  For example, if you are attacking, or being
attacked, if you hope to avoid disaster at sea or to cure illness, you
would insert the appropriate character in the center.
  The Mikkyo is a sect of Shingon Buddhism, the "School of the True
Word."  This was established about 806 AD by Kobo Daishi, who believed
every religion to be an expression of one of ten stages in the progress
of mankind toward true Buddhahood.
(...quoted freely from "The Way of the Warrior" by Howard Reid and
Michael Croucher)

Q:  What do you think of Cutey Honey Flash, the new series?
A:  I finally got a chance to see the new TV run of "Cutey Honey"
(started 3-8-97) and wanted to say a few things about it.
   I've been a bit down on Cutey Honey in general, as a rather obvious
"jiggle" show meant for boys to drool over.  The OAV's that were
commercially done in the US surely gave that impression.
  But this tv season of Cutey Honey Flash... this is definitely a SHOUJO
show.  It's full of sweet introspective tender moments, the characters
are done in a definite shoujo style (better line art than Sailor Moon,
that's for sure), much of it is centered on Honey's school life and
buddies, there's also the mysterious tall powerful stranger of course...
and the weekly bad guy (usually a very grotesque monster-villain typical
of Sailor Moon and later Wedding Peach episodes).  Honey's clothing,
when she transforms, doesn't "explode" off her skin any more (lots of
boys got a rush from that I'm sure in earlier versions) but instead...
an enormous flower appears in the air... swirling blossoms are
everywhere... dazzling lights and ribbons dance... and her very brief
momentary nude frame is one of beautiful innocence instead of the rather
brazen one of earlier versions.  Her "bodies" (she's an android, you
know, capable of changing bodies) are nearly all stylishly and modestly
dressed, and emphasize a role, like stewardess, dentist, traffic
policewoman, and so forth.  Only her fighting body is extra-sexy, with
her keyhole bodice and spandex, but that's her trademark which they
couldn't really change.   But the in-your-face jiggle is gone.
  The Cutey Honey manga is published in Ciao Flower Comics.  So in
general, this is really a show for girls.  It's quite good too.
Basically, it's a Japanese Supergirl show.  Anyone who likes Sailor Moon
should like Cutey Honey Flash.  Maybe even more.  Is someone planning to
fansub this?  We have high-quality SVHS archive tapes of the first
episodes here now, and I'll keep adding to them as the tapes arrive,
assuming they aren't suddenly stopped by the tape-copyright changeover
going on now.  At least 16 episodes have shown already.

Q:  What do you think of people who don't like "Brother Dear Brother"?
A:  There aren't many of them!   But I've found a couple, mainly men.
The reactions to "Oniisama E" ("Brother, Dear Brother") are so varied.
I personally think it's one of the greatest shoujo anime series ever
done.  A few really don't see anything particularly good about it at
all.  I think part of it is how "deep" your fan taste is into the shoujo
genre.  It certainly requires an appreciation of the stills and painting
over more dynamically moving action anime.  And there is the melodrama,
in which every frown, or small event can assume world-shaking
proportions.  It's the opposite of a lot of the fantasy based on the
American model: every week, the hero saves the world or the galaxy or
maybe just the girl next door.  One gets a little jaded I think.  In
Oniisama-he it is the small things, the words overheard by another, the
music box given as a gift, and so many other details which become so
important that they themselves threaten the "world" of the main
character.  Its the introspective story of characters always on the edge
of emotional disaster, mixed with a sense of mystery and operatic drama
which is uncommon in anime.  I love it.  But you certainly don't have
to, and I'd be surprised if everyone did.  People say Evangelion is one
of the greatest animes in years, and I don't see much about it that
really interests me.  There's so much anime that there's something for

Q:  I noticed you had a special distribution category (when you were
distributing) for "Asian-Americans" or "Americans of Asian
Heritage." I am curious as to why this distinction is made.
A:  Ah, an EXCELLENT question!  The answer will surprise you.
  The category "Asian-Americans living in North America" was in that list
of people who can obtain tape requests from the TechnoGirls.  It's
SOLELY a subtle reminder to Japanese browsers of that page that, just as
their government makes special dispensations to encourage Japanese in
the US/Canada to maintain cultural relations with Japan, even to the
extent of pressure on commercial companies, the "TechnoGirls" can be
viewed as working towards the same purpose.  This reminder could
possibly cause US fansubbing to be viewed slightly more positively by
Japanese anime companies than the very neutral stance most have now.
That can't hurt, to have them think for a second, "Well,
second-generation Japanese in the US can get shows fansubbed that their
relatives in Japan are watching, even though those shows aren't likely
to be released in the US in English, so that's a good thing, because our
government wants to encourage retention of cultural bonds between
Japanese and Japanese-Americans as much as possible."
  In fact, NEVER will the category "Asian-Americans" have any more, or
any fewer, privileges with respect to the TechnoGirls than the category
"All other private collectors."  I promise that.  It wouldn't be right.
It wouldn't be American.

Q: What kind of font do people most recommend for subtitling?
A:  Well, some of this doesn't apply well to many others, since we use
Subsonic, and no one else does (except S-Wynd and perhaps soon
Tomodachi) but the general way to evaluate a font is something like
  It should be a "san serif" font.  At least for dialog...
  It must have a height for a normal small letter of more than 1/20th of
a screen, about.
  Assuming you're using 800x600 resolution for your subtitler, you
should have the character at least 2 pixels wide at every point.  Even
the script.
  And most important, the width of the character, versus the space
between characters and parts of a character, should be about the same.
If you keep it balanced like this it remains the most readable for the
smallest font.  By "width" I mean the width of the "pen stroke" you
would use to draw the character... not how wide the letter is from one
side to the other.  Fonts which are too thin, or too fat, reduce
visibility.  I feel most subtitlers use fonts which are too thin.
At the moment we use:
font: Milford Black or Context Semicondensed SSi Bold
size: 25-point (large system font resource settings)
Inner outline size: 2 pixel
Outer outline size: 2 pixel
Inner outline color: {46,46,46} (rgb)
Outer outline color: {19,19,19}
Font clipped to a vertical size of: 75% (this makes the font less tall
so you can have lots of lines in a small space)
Drop shadow proportion: 0 (I don't like drop shadows)

Q:  Any more tips on fansubbing?
A:  I'll write a couple of paragraphs here of tips for new fansubbers.
  You should start the caption exactly on the voice, or about 0.05 seconds
after the voice starts. Then end the
caption 0.2-0.4 seconds after the speaker stops -- unless that would
overlap another caption, in which case you must decide whether to (1)
show both captions at once, with the same timing, (2) Start the second
caption exactly when the first one ends, or (3) Start the second caption
underneath the first, while the first still shows.
  Never put a caption onscreen which lasts less than 1 second.  Combine
captions instead.
  Don't turn off a top line before a bottom line.
  Never add a top line to an already-showing bottom line.
  Never have more than 3 lines of captions showing in one group, and
even then only in an emergency.  Normally two lines is maximum.
  Avoid having a new caption start exactly when the previous one ends if
a new speaker is speaking -- leave a gap if possible.
  Break captions at commas or conjunctions only.  If you can't do that,
rewrite the script so that you can.  Breaking lines in the middle of
a grammatical phrase is frustrating to read.
  Try using underlined text instead of italic for emphasis, or better
yet, a larger font for an emphasized word to make it stand out.
Italics don't really work in subtitles unless they are actually an
entirely different font style.  (The slant alone isn't visible enough.)
  Use a larger font than you think is necessary.  Someone will have a
little TV and poor eyesight and will thank you for it.  The tiny fonts
used by some subbers are very hard to read quickly and even harder when
they are 2nd or 3rd generation.
  Don't use "fancy" fonts.  Most fans want readability instead of
cuteness in their font styles.

Q:  Hi! I just wondering if I hire a translator, how much should I pay him?
A: We pay at least $50 per tv episode, about $85 per OAV 30-minute episode.
Plus additional for extra work like song translation, credits, research,
etc. It's hard work and they deserve it.

Q:  And do all the manga titles have furigana or only for titles aimed at a younger
A:  You can tell exactly what age group the manga is intended for by the
furigana.  For the youngest age group, there is furigana over all kanji,
and most kanji simply isn't used at all.  The next age group has fairly
normal kanji use, but furigana for all of them.  Then there is the next
group, with furigana only over the non-Toyo (college level and above)
kanji.  And finally of course there are the mature readers materials
with no furigana at all except for some proper names and archaic
  For a monthly shoujo magazine with all-furigana kanji and fairly
simple ones at that, I would recommend "Amie".  The quarterly "Dessert"
is really good too, especially since it is all complete love stories, no
continuing stories.  These are for girls about 11-15 or so. These
magazines often have other things which make reading easier, like mixing
hiragana and katakana just as punctuation, so you can tell where one
word ends and the next begins.
  I don't like trying to learn from Ribbon or Nakayoshi because the
print quality is SO bad!  Learning from manga for me means having to
constantly tape up disintegrating magazines, because I handle them so
much.  The bindings crumble and the pages start floating all around.
They weren't meant to last more than a couple of readings.
  One of my favorite magazines is Asuka's Fantasy DX.  Fun stories, most
of them are one-shots of continuing characters.  That's the magazine
where Angelique and Escaflowne ran in.

Q:  How do you respond to criticism that a translation is not "literal"?
A:     People who do translations from Japanese usually dislike translations
done by others.  Deny it if you like but my experience is exactly that.
So one should not be discouraged by the negative comments from Japanese
literate fans, except where truly inappropriate translations are done,
or when cultural material is destroyed in the adaptation.
  You know, I've seen some truly awful translations done by the original
Japanese authors or publishers of their own material.  I don't think you
can even trust them as the "ultimate" authority on correct translation.
  My Japanese is still weak but when I do translations I find that I end
up having to come up with English words which cause an English reader to
experience the same thoughts and feelings experienced by the Japanese
reader of the original text.  That sort of translation goal (never
completely attainable) makes it impossible to translate literally.  But
if you do anything else, you end up compromising the material being
translated and the whole thing becomes a language lesson instead of a
fun story.  Let the fans who want language lessons subscribe to Mangajin
instead. (I do, and I really recommend it!)
  When we did a translation of "Mizuirojidai" we had a problem with the
title.  Ciao had done some magazine knick-knacks (stationery, and a tiny
purse) with the words "Aqua Age" on them and so fans already knew the
show by that title, and got REALLY UPSET when we titled it "The
Blue-Green Years".  But Aqua Age just was not a workable English title,
since that left the original title's hidden meanings completely
inaccessible to the English viewer.  Actually, of all the ways to
translate the title I think Aqua Age was the worst!  Surely it was a
quickie done by the magazine using a J-E dictionary, to get the shortest
English words so that they could fit on the little plastic purse...!
But you'd be amazed at the upset fans of the manga and anime who wrote
to us.  Oh well.  Once we explained the puns and allusions in the
titles, they usually understood, but that's a long story...
   I had lots of problems handling editing and retranslation of the three
girls in Wedding Peach.  I finally got my 17-year old daughter to help.
She helped give Hinagiku a "gangsta-gal" flavor, and helped a bit with
Momoko, the overly-Westernized ditzy hip kid. I thought the results were
great, and though not literal they best expressed the characters.  Slang
is just about impossible to translate.
  Doing a good English title for "Zetsuai" is just as hard.  If you try
to capture that one made-up word into English you end up with something
like "Despairingly Unattainable Absolute Ideal Love" but a lot of fans
are used to "Desparate Love" and would lynch me. (ref. zetsudai,
zesshuru, zettai, zetsubou eg.) Besides, that would be a horrible
English title.  What can one do?  Anyone audacious enough to translate
Japanese into English is going to have to bear some really picky
criticism.  I guess you just have to go with your heart on it and ignore
some of the negativity.
   Anyway, I like translations that are translated "all the way" into
English, not halfway.  That means they can't be literal at all.  If this
were French, not Japanese, then it would be different, because you can
be fairly literal with French-to-English, but Japanese just doesn't work
that way.
   Many decades ago it was common to try to translate Japanese and
Chinese literally, or at least fairly literally.  A phrase like
"irasshaimase" would be given as "Please honor me by coming in." That
works if you want to portray Japan as an exotic foreign place with
exotic customs but that style is out now, I think, except for some of
the kung-fu movies I guess...

Q:  Is fan sponsorship of fansubs a traditional thing?
A:   No tradition, unless you count just the past 18 months or so.
Sponsorship is totally new.  TechnoGirls was the first to fansub solely
on a openly solicited sponsorship basis.  It seems to be a big thing
now.  I guess that's good.
  I know some groups are soliciting for sponsors and not doing too well
with it.  But there's not too much choice if you don't have the
resources otherwise.
  One alternative though is to join a fansub group instead of going it
alone.  The Internet makes it easy for a group to have members all over.
The splintering of fansub groups we see now is not necessarily a good
thing.  Joining is better than splintering.

Q:  Did you like "Don't leave me alone Daisy!"?
A:  On July 2, a new shounen anime started in Japan, "Misute-naide Daisy"
(Don't Forsake Me, Daisy).  I managed to watch the first 4 episodes
  The best description of this is a Japanese anime version of "Weird
Science".  A boy inventor has a sexy girl robot he built named Daisy,
but after seeing a girl, Hitomi, who looks just like the robot, he falls
for her.  He insists on treating her the same way he treated his robot,
Daisy, including calling her "Daisy" too, which she finds really
annoying, but... she comes around. (he's rather boorish, actually)  Add
a homeroom teacher who insists on wearing the most outrageous sexy
outfits, and a pet nuclear ICBM that the boy treats like a pet goldfish,
and lots of crazy antics, an alien here and there, and you get the
picture.  The art looks like a highschool version of Mizuirojidai.  The
voice acting is so-so.  There are insane gadgets everywhere.  The show
is lots of fun. The manga is published by Ascii Books.  It's not all
science-satire... just when you think you've seen the formula, in
episode 4 it suddenly becomes a bit more dramatic. It's not great anime,
but it's very enjoyable, and has some original moments to it.

Q:  Will you repeat your "humorous" is-it-shoujo quiz?
A:  Sure.
   I'm always being asked if an anime is "shoujo" (for girls) or
"shounen" (for boys).  This is actually determined by the target market
of the manga which preceded the anime, normally.  But not knowing that,
here is a way to tell.
  Using this test, you get a score.  If the score is greater than
zero, it is shoujo.  If it is negative, less than zero, it is shounen.
Start with zero points.  Perhaps you can suggest additional tests...
   (1) Add one point for each flower or flower petal seen during the
introductory song.  If there are no flowers at all, subtract 20 points.
   (2) If the anime begins its first episode with a scene of the female
lead character in bed about to wake up to go to school, add 50 points --
unless you see her putting on her bra, in which case subtract 30 points.
   (3) Subtract 75 points everytime you see a character scratching.
   (4) Add 2 points for each "sweat drop" -- and add 4 points for each set
of "vein bulges."
   (5) Check the male and female lead characters for how often they show a
completely baffled, bewildered expression.  If the male character does
it more often, subtract 100 points; if it's the female character, add
100 points.
   (6) Add 125 points for each small cuddly animal-like character which
could conceivably be made into a stuffed toy.
   (7) With regard to the female character -- subtract 100 points
for each inch her bust measures over 34 inches.  But if you suspect she
is actually male, add 600 points.

Q:  I think it was about a year from the time TG solicited sponsorship
till the time they finally delivered Wedding Peach. I had serious doubts
that it would be made.
A:   Honestly, we struggled to get it done that whole time.  I was dismayed
myself at how powerless I was to make it happen faster.  We went through
4 flaking-out translators before we got decent scripts.  We started
laying down tape before episode 3 was even translated, just to hurry it
up.  I made no promises about exactly when any volume would be done,
because it was simply impossible to predict.  As it turned out, Romeo
went fastest, Peach went slowest. This was mostly due to the irregular,
colloquial "bad" mod quasi-westernized Japanese spoken in Peach.  It
drives translators mad.
  I quickly learned to not permit sponsors beyond the next volume to be
produced unless I was sure of the translation.
  Every episode with sponsorship will be subbed, or the money will be
refunded.  And anytime, on demand, the money will be refunded upon
request of the original sponsor, if the translation isn't done yet.
   In terms of sponsored episodes, I think that Technogirls has DELIVERED
more than any other fansubber.  Maybe even more than all others
combined.  I consider sponsorship to be a type of commission, and take
it very seriously.
  With regard to the Internet, though, none of us are so naive as to not
know that sending donations to strangers can be risky.  There are new
"fansubbers" out there who've done nothing but pick an anime, make a web
page, and ask for "donations" without showing that they are capable of
anything at all.  We didn't start getting any significant support until
Romeo #1 was out and circulating, to prove we could make a fansub. I
agree that it's foolish to send money to someone who's never made a
fansub or distributed tapes before.

Q:  I know from personal experience that folks go out and buy
loads of anime after seeing it at a meeting.
A:   It's true.  Before we started fansubbing "Oniisama E" no one knew what
it was.  The LD set I had, as far as I could tell, seemed to be the only
one in North America.  After our fansubs got out and started
circulating, a LOT of people started ordering the LD set ($700) from
Japan.  Now there are many shoujo fans who have (or are waiting for)
their own copies of the LD set.  The fansub created sales and resulted
in profits to the Japanese company.  Why is this concept so difficult
for the fansub critics to acknowledge?  This is how unknown
noncommercial anime is popularized in the US -- the ONLY way,
essentially.  Eliminating it would eliminate the revenue the companies
receive after the fansubs are circulating.  Of course, this only applies
to noncommercial shows, ones which won't be released in English.

Q:  The anime market in the US seems to be alive and flourishing,
so isn't it time to eliminate all fansubs?
A:     Suppress fansubs because the US anime market is
expanding in scope and variety?  That's like "the garden's got stuff
growing in it, so we can throw away the seed catalog now."
  A few years ago, the ratio of Japanese anime to US released anime was
about 250 to 1.  That's (believe it or not) 250 hours of tv, oav, movie
anime in Japan, to each hour of released anime in the US.  Now I would
say the ratio has moved to about 100 to 1, maybe slightly even better.
Do you realize the full amount of anime there is in Japan?  How long do
you think it will take before the ratio is 2 to 1 -- ten years?  25
years?  I really don't think it will happen.  But even if it DOES
someday get to 2 to 1, among that 50% of anime we can NEVER see will be
the garbage -- and the specialty gems -- that only fansub people will
ever see in English.  A healthy US anime market doesn't preclude the
usefullness of fansubs.  Already we see the effects of the fansubbers
pulling away from the "sure-to-be-released" shows, and concentrating on
the "snowball's chance in hell" shows.  This is why shoujo is where
fansubbers are beginning to concentrate now.  As long as fansubs don't
DIRECTLY compete with a released show, they will only create more of a
market, or make a show more likely to be released, or allow a show to be
seen which would never otherwise be seen.
  Not to mention the shows from the 80's which are going out of print
now, and have even less chance of ever being seen.  Want to see that
very old classic, the incredible "White Snake Enchantress"?  Sorry!  You
can't.  Probably never.  It won't be released in English, you can't beg,
borrow, or buy a copy.  Unless you support someone like me, and
encourage me to fansub my rare copy and share it with a few dozen anime
fanatics at a con or something like that.

Q:  Do most mangakas start out as doujinshi's?
A:    It seems to be a common myth among
American fans.  But in fact, its very rare for a doujinshi artist to
become a pro mangaka.  Yes, that's where CLAMP came from, and that's why
they are so unusual -- because they actually WERE doujinshi artists
  Most mangaka got published because of direct submissions.  A smaller
number are found by publisher contests.  An even smaller number come
from the manga academies.  A tiny number come from the anime academies.
The very LAST place a mangaka might come from is the doujinshi field.
This is no "training ground" -- this is fan art gone wild... the
publishers let it continue for reasons no one is completely sure of...
but they do.  Every two years or so they crack down on porn
representations of certain characters if it seems to be really out of
control, but even then its rather a mild crackdown.

Q:  And why are so many of the
biggest fansubbers (Tomodachi, Technogirls, and Silverwynd spring to
mind) women, then, if the great majority of the anime fans are all men?
A:  I think there is a local anomaly in the space-time continuum causing
the odd fact you mention.  There is no other sensible explanation.

Q:  Who is your favorite voice actress?
A:   I love many of them,  but one is Megumi Hayashibara.
Anyone who has any doubts about Megumi's talents?  Watch Video Girl Ai
episode 6 again.  While you do so, imagine how difficult it is to project
Ai's voice there, a weak begging voice which quavers and cracks due to
hours of constant sobbing without relief.  If it doesn't rip your heart
out you don't have one.  Only Megumi Hayashibara can pull that off as
well, I think.  She's the best in the world, and the Japanese know it.

Q:  Isn't it about time you digressed a little?
A:    If you know anything about Eastern philosophy, you know that in the
East, there can be opposing virtues.  Its possible for two people to both
be "right" (by exercising their particular virtues) yet be in complete
  Suppose you are a samurai.  Your lord, whom you have sworn an oath of
allegiance to, treats you well but is a cruel despot to his people.  Do
you abide by your oath, using the virtue of loyalty?  Do you abandon his
service, making yourself an outlaw, using the virtue of "the individual
way"?  Do you organize resistance against your former lord, using the
virtue of justice?  Or do you support your lord, but take action to help
correct some of the suffering you cause in his service, using the virtue
of individual responsibility?  Each of these scenarios are about a virtue
of the samurai -- and each scenario has the samurai as a hero, following
his own virtues fully.  Thats all that matters.  Also, each of the above
scenarios makes a really good story! Perhaps Eastern philosophy has more
stories in it than Western, and that's why the manga is so great... But I

Q:  What do fansubbers like to get from fans?
A:    1. Send them email thanking them.  Say what you liked. Say that you
showed it to a friend and what they said about it.  Tell about the club
you showed it at.  Describe your FEELINGS about the anime or the fansub.
Remember that fansubbers are EXTREME fans of the particular anime they
are working on, and want to know EVERYTHING about it.  DON'T let your
favorite fansubber feel lonely in their fandom.  Start a conversation
with them about the motivations of the main character in their fansub as
it relates to the mood expressed in the way the script was translated,
for instance -- fansubbers love chatting about SUBTLETIES.
  2.  Send them email commenting on their style.  Make a comment about
that font you liked.  Make constructive criticism about the way they
split sentences when they transcribe dialog.  Tell how they can improve
that color smearing they've been having trouble with.  Tell them about a
new genlock that they might like.  Anything like that.  Remember that
fansubbers get absorbed in a level of detail which is very extreme, and
like to talk about the tiniest things!
  3.  Ask about their translators, how to contact them.  Send email to
the translator and fansubber both.  Start a 3 way conversation with you,
the translator, and the fansubber about some of the script or some
aspect of Japanese culture in the fansub.  Fansubbers are usually
students of Japanese, and also enjoy talking about the language.
  4.  Send the fansubber something, anything, as a tiny gesture of
affection.  A trading card.  A drawing.  A magazine article you xeroxed.
Something that might interest them.  They'll love it.
  5.  Send a donation. Anything at all.  Fansubbers are so fanatical
they will starve themselves so that they can afford the fancy SVHS deck
that they feel they MUST buy in order for their quality to be "good
enough".  They usually need help.
  6.  Send them tapes of shows you want to see fansubbed.  THAT is how
to get a show fansubbed -- make sure your favorite fansubbers know what
a good show it is!  Fansubbers are sometimes so busy with a project that
they don't have time to even WATCH ANY ANIME!  So they may not know
about all the wonderful unfansubbed shows that they might want to work
on.  Send a unfansubbed copy of a tape to ALL the good fansubbers, and
see what happens!

Q:  How should one translate English loanwords?
A:  Loanwords have to be reinterpreted
when translated into English EVEN WHEN THE WORD
WORD.  Otherwise you may be asking for trouble.
  Take the word "seinto" ("saint") which is in common use in shoujo
manga.  It is from English obviously.  But to translate it into the
English word "saint" is over-literal most of the time and gives the
wrong meaning.  What does this word mean "in Japanese"?  First, it does
NOT mean "saint".  Or almost never, at least.  The Japanese like this
word, and their affection for it is based on the fact that the Kanji for
"sei" means "holy" (it is a pictograph of a someone whispering into the
ear of the king, and the only one who could do that is the priest or the
god).  The word "seinto" not only has a euphonious sound to the Japanese
ear, its meaning is "sort of" like the "sei" from the Chinese, making it
a cross-language pun of a sort.  So in their pop culture use of the
word, it means "sacred" or "blessed" or "magical". Or simply "amazing".
Always an adjective. But never "saint", a noun.
  An even simpler example is "mashin" from English "machine".  Yes it
means "machine"  -- but only one kind -- a SEWING MACHINE.
  So you see, if all translators re-rendered
loanwords literally back into English, many meanings would be lost.

Q:  Could you please tell me the different japanese classifications for anime...
I know there are shoujo, shounen, ... and could you please tell me there
A:    There are lots of classifications!  The four main ones are seinen,
shounen, shoujo, and Ladies Comic.
  Seinen: a manga or anime which was CREATED in a publication intended
for male readers over about 25 or so, I forget the exact cutoff age.
Heavy-duty gore, subtle strategic plots, nudie-cutie features, outright
male-female porn, articulate historical fiction, dynamic plot
development. Example: Ah Megami-sama (Oh My Goddess). Typical magazine:
  Shounen: same, but younger age group, about 11-25 or so.  Lots of
adventure, cute girls who are often semi-nude, robots, space wars,
romance-comedy, rpg-related, etc. Example: Dragonball. Typical
magazines: Shounen Jump, Shounen Ace.
  Shoujo: originated in a publication intended for girls age about
10-20.  Romance, beautiful character design, elaborate character-driven
plots, extreme personal angst and inner conflict, male-male
relationships and love, lesbian situations, girl-in-wonderland fantasy,
magic powers (but not FIGHTING powers as often), very slow plot
development. Example: Sailor Moon, Magic Knight Rayearth. Typical
magazines: Ribon, Asuka Fantasy DX, Margaret.
  Ladies's comics: same as shoujo but more for older girls and women
office workers.  Heavier emphasis on romance and romance-fantasy, with
heavy duty aberrant relationships thrown in, with blatant male-male and
female-female love appearing fairly often -- with subsets of "Yaoi"
(male-male psychosexual interaction) and "June" (male-male sexual
interludes, without much actual sex...!) Example: Zetsuai (Crazy Love),
Fuchi Tonari Ne (Next Door to an Abyss), Pataliro. Typical magazines:
Petit Flower, Hana to Yume (Flowers and Dreams).  Ladies comic features
aren't made into anime as much as other types.  One special case is
"Five Star Stories" -- but it is a Ladies Comic feature in an otaku
magazine, (Newtype), and otaku magazines often combine shoujo/shounen or
ladies/seinen material, because the otaku cross the lines so much...

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