Animavericks' editor reminds us anime is bigger than Ben Hur
Sun, 24 February 2008
by: Australian Ninja
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Recently I took the time to do a Q&A with Handy, the editor of Animavericks, an independent Australian magazine that covers Anime, Manga and J-pop. His answers proved insightful and revealing on topics from the production of the magazine to cultural misconceptions about anime.
Q1. Handy, tell us a bit about yourself, what your role is and how you first got involved in the production of Animavericks magazine?
I am basically the founder of Animavericks Magazine together with some other internal team members of Animavericks. We put forth the idea of making an Australian based commercial anime magazine two years ago, when we were still at Monash University. Ever since then there wasn't (and still isn't) any professional and official anime magazine being produced in a large scale like most of the movie and gaming magazines in Australia. We thought of making one ourselves professionally and strive to be the biggest in the industry.
I began as the team leader of small anime club publication magazine in Monash University Anime Club (MCAC) in Caulfield Campus that's dedicated to provide information to our club members about anime, games and Japanese pop entertainment with only 70-100 copies of the magazine being produced. This is done for the purpose to test out the market and finding sponsors necessary to produce a bigger scale magazine and it turns out we managed to grow the magazine this way and finding many loyal subscribers.
My role in the Animavericks since the start of the magazine until now is pretty much the same - with the exception of my title - since our magazine is currently a commercial magazine. Now I am taking the role of Managing Director (used to be just a team leader when the magazine was still a non-profit anime club based magazine) as well as the role of Sales, Marketing and Production Manager. I also do write some of the magazine articles and do most of the content directing.
Q2. How long has the magazine been around? When was the first issue published and how often does the Animavericks crew put out a mag?
If we count the real commercial age of the magazine, our magazine has only been around commercially for almost two years since around the middle of 2006. However if you want to count the real age of the magazine we started of being a club magazine in the beginning of 2005, marked by the first edition of Animavericks magazine (at that time, we were called "MCAC Anime Monthly Magazine") so it has been 3 years since our first appearance as MCAC club magazine.
We released Animavericks quarterly or every three months period. This means that Animavericks Magazine is released four times in a year starting from the beginning of February to the end of November. However, with a vast growth in Anime industry, we are currently looking at increasing our volume of production to become a bi-monthly magazine released every two months period by the end of the year.
Q3. How is your magazine different from other magazines around? What can a potential reader expect to find in any given issue?
First of all, we are definitely different from any magazine around, because Australia never had any anime magazine that's published professionally apart from newsletters or small club magazines (published by fan-clubs and anime societies in Australia). Madman has small magazine updates for their DVDs but it is pretty much a catalogue and not much of review. So, since we are the only independent anime magazine produced in Australia, hence we have our own distinctiveness in that alone.
The other things that make us different from any import anime magazines from US and Canada, is that we also review J-Entertainment culture apart from our focus on Anime and Video Games. No other anime magazine so far that I've seen from the US and Canada has ever incorporate Japanese Entertainment section (movies, music, dorama and Tokusatsu) in their magazine content.
The final distinction of our magazine is if you compared our magazine to most video game magazines is that most of our review in video games revolve specifically only on Japanese video game reviews and anime based games. We want to still stay in our anime and Japanese-culture boundary because that's what is appealing to our target market. Hence for video games, we also need to create a Japanese feeling in it too which has never been presented in any video games magazine before.
Q4. Lazy question alert! - Tell us your personal five favourite Animes; whether TV, film, or OVA (original video animation).
Haha… so many to list, but I will do my best! My favourite anime of all time would be: Samurai Champloo, One Piece, D.Gray-man and Eyeshield 21. My current favourite anime from last year would be Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni (1st and 2nd season). And if I may add one more (cos' I really want to add this as my current favourite for mecha anime): Eureka 7!
Q5. And your five favourite manga comics?
DEATH NOTE! That has to come first to the list. I like it better in manga version because it reveals all the intrigue perfectly and without fail to making sense out of it. The next favourite would be, Eyeshield 21 (again!), I's (romance story), Berserk (because its violence and daring storytelling), and DNA2.
Q6. What makes these productions meaningful to you, why do you enjoy them more than other similar productions?
For anime, I like Samurai Champloo, because of its relaxing story telling accompanied by a distinct setting, great characters, cool and realistic fighting scenes and lots of funny moments in there.
Eureka 7, One Piece, D.Gray-Man and Eyeshield 21, they all have the similar feeling in their way telling the story; brave characters, inspiring story about fighting to the end to protect your friends and striving to achieve your dream, that sort of aspect that inspire me to run Animavericks better and that's what I like about it.
I like Higurashi mainly because that anime is really unique in their story telling sequences and full of mystery until the end of the first season. Also the psychological depth and the twisted characters past and progress intrigued me to watch it until it is all finished (I spent two days straight to finish the two seasons of Higurashi - 48 episodes in total!)
Q7. The widespread acceptance of Anime in Australia has really grown over the last couple decades. There was a time when people thought it was all tits, blood, guns and sexy explosions. How do you think our cultural perceptions have changed about what animation is 'ok' to watch? Is Anime losing its geek status, or are people still hiding their Anime VHS/DVDs in closets away from prying eyes?
Before, anime was treated like a cult movie, where everybody that likes anime is treated like a weirdo and usually being seen as a geek. But now, Japanese Anime has ruled even over wide screen (with Madman's effort in bringing Naruto and Highlander to the Wide Screen). With the vast growth of video games industry (which is also full of geeks and ultimately most of anime fans), the anime industry now is starting to be treated as a profitable industry and slowly beginning to enter some mainstream market, with kids as its first target (remember Pokemon, Duel Monster, Naruto and Dragon Ball Z). As the result of this, many geeks who were treated like a weirdo and had to hide their Anime DVDs in closets are starting to open up their habit and even feel proud as "Otaku".
Anime will always be a distinct culture from the mainstream simply because anime is more of a sub-culture with its vast array of choices and their way of story telling which is appealing to adults too, not just to kids. And because adults who are fans of anime will usually enjoy anime more than kids, hence, some anime that's ok to watch from general people perception will appear in commercial television for Kids and general viewers, but there are also many titles that will never appear on western commercial television because of its violent nature, deep story telling (seinen and Josei) or its adult themes (echii and hentai) and these anime will remain a distinct subculture available for fans only and not to general mainstream public.
Q8. Some people don't like Anime shows purely because all they've seen are heavily edited cartoons on free network TV (and think its all kids stuff). If you had one of them locked in a room for fifteen minutes and they had to listen to you, what would you say to them to change their mind?
Well, firstly I won't say anything but just to ask them to watch one of my favourite anime for just about ten minutes (fan sub and not dubbed of course!). And then, for the rest of the five minute period, I will explain to them the depth of the story, the complexity and the interesting part of it and also ask them what do they think about the anime itself. If they still don't like it, then its alright with me but if they are starting to like it, then its good because one more person is going to buy Animavericks magazine then, LOL!
I am a firm believer that the more you push a person to like what you like, the lesser he will like it. But if you give them a taste, and then ask for their opinion and persuade him to his own interest, he will be more likely to change his mind and perception about anime. It's just like religion or belief really, no need to pressure them, just show them how enjoyable it is.
Q9. Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Destiny: Reunion concert in Melbourne performed by the Eminence orchestra group. Do you think the group is succeeding in their vision to "bring contemporary classical music to younger generations?" (by playing music from popular Animes and video games).
YES! I should agree to that, ever since that Hiroaki-san is the first person that I knew ever being so successful to invite Japanese famous composers to Australia and open Australian eyes about the beauty of Japanese classic music composition in Anime and games. You can also see proof of their success from their massive attendance at their concerts. Animavericks was privileged to do an exclusive interview with all the Japanese composers who came to Australia and actually review the concert itself as a media guest, which was very entertaining for our readers as well.
Q10. In edition #7 of Animavericks there is an interview with the founder of Eminence, Hiroaki Yuka. How did the Animavericks team track him down?
As I mentioned above, because we are the only Australian anime magazine that has a good credibility and big supporters, Big Mouth actually offered us a chance to interview Hiroaki Yura, who is the violin virtuoso and concertmaster of Eminence. This interview opportunity also came with another big surprise, which is the sudden offer for us to also interview Go Shiina (Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection composer) at the same time. So off we went there!
Q11. Who would win in a fight between Godzilla and Chuck Norris in a monster truck?
GODZILLA!! It is my Hero! It has massive size, killer breath and a great wrestling ability! It can fight multiple monsters at once and still be winning! Godzilla is the pride of Japan (although it always causes trouble for the country too with its wreckage capability)! Chuck Norris in monster truck will get stomped in one second, so he won't stand any chance against my hero! LOL!
Q12. As a medium, Anime can be a little harder to get into compared to say American cartoons and animated films (most have overly simplistic stories). The same can be said for Manga, with its multi-part storylines over many volumes. Can you recommend some good places to start for those who are new to Anime and Manga?
Hmm… I recommend those who are new to anime and manga to firstly read Animavericks Magazine, to get an idea of the storyline of the manga or anime. And then, go to JB Hi-Fi to get your hands of some anime titles that we recommend in our magazine (because most of them are good!), and then head your way to Borders, pick a manga that we recommend in our magz and take a seat in the most comfortable corner there and start reading! That's the perfect guide for most of people who are new to anime and manga.
Q13. It's easy to get the impression that Animes are all about high school teen dramas, demons and violence. In the same way it's easy to think that all comic books are about superheroes. Why do these stereotypes still exist? How can we get past them?
Umm… Well, the stereotypes exist because of people in the west have a short and narrow mind about the type of anime before they actually explore the culture itself. Shounen is the biggest part of the anime genre and arguably the most popular ones. And since Shounen refers to "boy" this means that it is easier to find teenage school drama that involves boy characters, or violence and demon bashing hunters, because all of these are "Boy" or "Shounen" stuff!
Similar to why comics in the west are mostly Superheroes, because the biggest publishers of comics (being DC and Marvel) are famous because of their superheroes line and not their drama or teenage school boy storyline (because they don't have any of those anyway). Hence, many small independent comic publishers also try their luck and success by copying DC and Marvel way, which is to create superheroes.
The best way is to educate both sides that there is a little more than just what is popular. Like in Anime there is a Shoujo, Moe, Seinen, Josei as part of the genre classification which is less popular in the west, but very popular in Japan. Comics also have some variation in (although not as vast as in Japan), for example game adaptation comics and comedy. So people really have to explore the culture deeper before making any stereotypes
Q14. Have you heard about the real life students in some schools creating their own death wish list books inspired by the popular manga/Anime Deathnote? (Some places such as Singapore are banning the product).
Haha… Well anime is just anime, there is also a bit of message that the author wants to send across, but it is not definitely something weird like creating Death Wish list books, but more into the morality of the story. I like to watch Death Note simply to admire how clever Light could be and how persistent Detective L is. Adult fans of anime definitely have a more mature way of seeing anime rather than the young fans.
Q15. Pop-culture conventions certainly seem to be on the rise in Australia, we have Supanova, eGames, Manifest, Armageddon, GO3, Animania and probably others I have not yet heard of. Do you ever attend these kinds of events?
Yes! Animania will be a part of many this year except GO3, because it seems that they are going down this year due to a massive loss last year with their ambitious project to run a big game convention in Perth.
Q16. I picked up a copy of ANIMAVERICKS at eGames '07 in Melbourne, (from an attractive and friendly young lady) - how did you guys score a space there and have the Animavericks group been involved in any other similar pop-culture events?
We had a very special deal with eGames expo, and the deal itself is classified. But all I can say that eGames expo provide us, Animavericks an opportunity to be the only anime media along with Madman as anime representative to organize some cool anime events, knowing that half of the attendance of eGames would be anime fans and the more attraction about Anime is made of, the better the conventions would be. From that basis, Animavericks signed a deal with eGames and scored a big booth in eGames as our basis to promote anime to gamers and also to run many exciting events.
We are pretty much affiliated with most of the anime and game conventions throughout Australia. Supanova, Armageddon, Gen Con, Animania, SMASH!, Doujicon, eGames, even Eminence, we are affiliated with them in many different aspects since we are Australia's Anime, Games and J-Entertainment Magazine!
Q17. How does it feel to be a part of Australia's only independently produced and published Anime magazine?
Feeling is great! We love Australian Anime Community. They are so supportive and really loyal to you. Every time we made an improvement and they like it, we feel so glad and encouraged to keep moving forward. We want to incorporate more media access for people who love anime to access info about their hobby in Australia. That's why Animavericks will incorporate many media including website, Radio (our monthly anime segment with Melbourne-based "Tektime Radio Show" @ 97.1 FM) and Animavericks TV! Just like our slogan "Animavericks: Anime Anywhere", we want to be the biggest anime media for Australian anime fans.
You can download the show from Tektime Anime Podcast
Q18. Do you think you'll stay with the magazine in the near future or move on to other things?
Definitely will stay in the Magazine as our core business, but just like our slogan: "Animavericks: Anime Anywhere", we would like to expand our business in the future to also incorporate another media, which is TV show, Radio, Website, forum, and even manga publishing and media design.
Q19. How can people grab themselves an issue of the magazine, where is it available to buy?
Every anime, games and J-Entertainment fans can grab their Animavericks issue from specialist bookstores and retailers for just $8 (bonus pin ups: Gundam 00 and Lucky Star), from retail outlets such as: Minotaur (Melbourne), Ozanimart, NYU Anime, Animasia and Ace Comics (Brisbane).
You can also grab a copy of Animavericks and subscribe at our table in Supanova expo in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney as well as the upcoming Animania in Melbourne for just $8 each and $35 for one year subscription (4 editions + 1 bonus back order edition). Subscribe to us there and you could WIN an on-the-spot draw prize (Madman DVDs).
Check out our website too at www.animavericks.com where you can subscribe online over there for the same price as convention subscriptions ($35/year). For several lucky subscribers in every edition, you guys can WIN UP TO 10 Video Games from THQ (next edition: Persona 3 for PS2).
Q20. If there's one message you could pass on to your potential readers, what would it be?
If you like Anime, if you like Video Games, or even if you like Japanese movies, music and culture make sure you read our Animavericks Magazine, Join our forum jungle and don't forget to visit our website too! You know you want to…
Q21. Is there anything you'd like to add or elaborate on?
Just a news update to whoever are curious about us or our long standing fans, Animavericks will be doing a massive 3 mobile promo and anime competition on the 9th of March 2008 with over $1000 worth of DVDs, games and Subscription prize. Don't forget to visit our NEW website on the 1st of March 2008 to see our great new look! (www.animavericks.com)
Finally, thanks you for your time Handy. The team at Buttonhole wish you and the Animavericks crew continued success with your unique publication.
by: Australian Ninja
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