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    theO Mailbag: Anime Hockey & More

This is the very first (and perhaps last) issue of our experimental theO Mailbag feature. You asked us a ton of questions and we responded below. Enjoy!

cowboysean: Why isn't there an anime/manga series about hockey?

We asked this question to our council of anime geniuses (consisting of Shinmaru, Yamchaa, Desbreko, and TimeChaser). The responses were excellent but since there was a lot of overlap, we only reprinted Shinmaru's thoughts below:

First off, in my research, I found a couple of manga centered around hockey: Go!! Southern Ice Hockey Club and Go Ahead. There may be more, but I'm not sure. (There's another manga called My Heavenly Hockey Club, but it's about field hockey rather than ice hockey, and they apparently barely play it, anyway.) Unfortunately, neither appear to be available legally in the United States, which is how I'm sure you would prefer to consume the story.

Unfortunately my research did not unearth any anime about hockey.

I'll address your question in two ways: First, there's likely a dearth of hockey manga/anime because the sport isn't that popular in Japan. It's not an unknown sport by any means, but certainly not at the level of other foreign sports like baseball, basketball or even American football, which have major professional leagues that have a far larger presence in Asia than the NHL. You can catch MLB, NBA and NFL games on Japanese TV stations, but not NHL games. It takes more exposure for something to become more popular!

I assume, however, that you are an American and are thus interested in why what little hockey-related material hasn't trickled its way to the States. From what I have read in the past, sports manga and anime traditionally sell poorly in the U.S. Companies have tried again and again with very little success even with the most popular sports titles to come out of Japan (Slam Dunk, The Prince of Tennis, Hajime no Ippo, etc.). Maybe some sports manga have done decently (I don't have any numbers on hand to make a definitive statement), but I can't come up with a single example of a sports anime that has done well at all. One of the more recent attempts was Big Windup! -- a baseball anime -- and FUNimation had to cancel plans to bring out the second season because the first sold so poorly.

There's just not enough strong demand for sports anime and manga here. Some stuff is still being released like the aforementioned series and Eyeshield 21 and whatnot, but I'd be surprised if they turned more than a minimal profit. Anime and manga are risky business now, and while hockey is climbing back in popularity after its disastrous lockout a few years back, it's certainly nowhere near the level of football or baseball here. All that combines for a hostile market for a product that's super niche in its country of origin, sorry to say. Perhaps one day, however, you will get your hockey anime!

PearlSky: Am I one of your favorite members? Do you consider changing the theme of theOtaku soon? Or adding any more options to to worlds' design?

I love all members the same*.

No plans on new themes, too much else to do.

*Lie, you're the best.

XkeyofdestinyX: Will we be able to have christmas gifts for this years holiday? Everyone really wants some, and it'll be a nice addend to the site.

Great idea, especially since there's a ton of time left until the next cycle.

Demon Amber: I'm looking into a career in game design, and was wanting to know if you could be of some help decided if its a good idea or not. I'm still in high school, and well, its now or never. I want to start online with my school of choice if I can soon. Any advice?

Game design is generally when you design the mechanics of a game (how it'll work) rather than the look of a game. First, let's rephrase your question to be more accurate: "I'm looking into a career in game art/game visual design."

My best advice is to be obsessive about game-specific art and be willing to sacrifice as much of your free time as possible to become great at it. It takes 10,000+ hours to master any field, so if you spend 4 hours a day up until you graduate college you'll be halfway there. Your youth is your best advantage for now.

Here's what I'd do if I was in your position:

  • I'd start by trying to design sprites with any 2D graphic program (even MS Paint works for this) - I'd search for "pixel art tutorials" or "game sprite tutorials" and read them all.
  • I'd get REALLY good at designing sprites and pixel art and then learn the basics about animating them.
  • I'd email everyone I could find online who's also really good at sprites and pixel art and ask them for tips on how I can improve my work.
  • I'd keep practicing, trying to re-draw the best sprites/pixel art I could find.
  • Once I was at a high-level I'd put together a portfolio of my best work and email every Flash game developer I could find online offering my services for free. I'd use this opportunity to learn as much as possible about how to design for game production.
  • I'd build a portfolio of games that I've worked on and keep in touch with the game creators.
  • In college I'd study programming and make games that I'd animate myself (even though I might hate it), learn about 3D, play a lot of games to develop an eye for them, keep volunteering my services, hoping to get an internship at an actual game company/etc.
  • After graduation I'd hope to have such a ridiculously great game-focused portfolio + references from game industry people that I'd get a job. And that's the beginning!

In some fields you don't have to be the top 1% to be successful but in most art/design areas you have to be really great and insanely hard-working to have a shot at a reasonable career.

I don't know much about college programs in the space. There are probably great programs that don't involve game-specific art so don't necessarily only look for those keywords. Another piece of advice I'd give you is to really take a hard look at costs. Ultimately what you do outside of school can be a bigger force in getting you a good job than what you do in school. If I could go back in time I'd have gone to a college with much cheaper tuition and worked harder on personal projects - student debt sucks and no one tells you about that.

mirahsan2: Will I ever find the woman of my DREAMMMZZZZZ!!!!!

Yes, or at least that's what you'll tell your future wife!

Hi there friend!

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