Ask @ANNZac:

Hope you're having a great day so far, just a quick question. I've been meaning to get to seeing Wolf's Rain for a long time, as it looks like something I'm sure I'd love. Just wanted to ask if you think it'd be worth blind buying the new Blu-Ray set being released?

Well, I mean, I love that show - I think it's close to the best anime I've ever seen, so yeah, I think you should just run out and buy it.
BUT
Funimation has the first four episodes of Wolf's Rain up for streaming! And it's the phenomenal English dub:
https://www.funimation.com/shows/wolfs-rain/city-of-howls/uncut/
If you're lucky you'll get a wildly misleading trailer for GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE beforehand that makes it look like an action-packed thrill ride!

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Can you reveal how other series besides Bakemonogatari did on the classic reviews poll?

Sure - Gurren Lagann, Fate/Zero, Samurai Champloo, Tatami Galaxy, Toradora!, Mushishi, Rose of Versailles. Plenty more, too - we'll probably wind up pulling from that poll a few more times. We're happy with the choice, though - those Bakemonogatari reviews are doing well for us so far.

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Will LWA be getting a preview guide when it comes out on Netflix or will someone just do a review on it? I would like to see everyone's opinion on the first episode.

That's an interesting idea, adding it to the preview guide so we get the same variety of opinion. The issue is resurrecting the guide months afterward - Netflix isn't going to make the show available until after it's finished, I don't think. I think people might be confused if suddenly the Winter 2017 Guide is being resurfaced in like, April.
But there's a way to do this without confusing readers, I think. Thanks for the idea!

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Is 'same face' sth that can diminish your enjoyment in an anime? I mean, I like SHIROBAKO, but it really bothers me how the face models of the 6 main leads are exactly identical despite everyone else looking different from each other.

Nah - you can tell the Shirobako girls apart easily enough, I think. They have different hair. Also that show has a Main Character and it's mostly about her, so I feel like the other girls fall into "supporting cast" territory pretty quickly.

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Do you think that the low number of interesting new shows will lead to a lower bar for entry in the streaming polls?

We're going to wind up covering a lot of stuff closer to the bottom of the poll if only due to the lower number of shows overall. We have enough writers to capably cover about 27-28 shows without breaking much of a sweat, so we're gonna wind up writing about a lot of that downballot stuff. It'll be fun! Maybe some of it will surprise us.

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I'm in favor of classic weekly reviews coming back, since I loved Nick's Paranoia Agent ones. My huge, /huge/, request there is, make sure it's a catalog title I can actually stream like any other weekly review. There is very little point otherwise.

Haha, yes, that is Rule #1 for daily streaming classic from here on out. Whatever the show is, it'll be available on a major streaming service.
In hindsight that was a really weird, stupid choice. I loved Nick's reviews, but yeah, obviously the show needs to be available.

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As you say, LaLa Land is a fun little movie, but it feels weird for it to win best picture. Do you feel that some genres are more "artistic", or have more potential, than others? Could you ever consider a comedy the best of the year? Erotica? An action movie? Or is this a bad way to think about it?

Nah - I mean, I'm not sure if that's a "bad way to think about it" but that isn't how I think about it. It's a pretty fun movie but compared to pretty much any of the other movies being considered, it's a fuckin' slurpee.
Sure, a musical comedy could win best picture and totally deserve it. But it should probably be like a really amazing musical comedy with real emotional impact. La La Land is up against Moonlight, which is just fuckin bursting with rawness and tension. That's a story about a person going through some real shit, a seriously tough hand, and the movie just sits inside his heart and boils. impossible not to feel something.
you can't say anything even kinda like that about La La Land, and these movies came out in the same year and are competing for the same prize.
oh also none of this shit matters, by the way, but it's still kinda fun to talk about.

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I've always admired how you and Jacob seem pretty confident in yourselves - I've been struggling with confidence in my abilities recently; that 'But there will always be someone better than me' mindset when thinking about job-hunting/life in general. Any advice on how to escape this mindset?

Thanks, man. Confidence is tough. I definitely feel you on the whole "there will always be someone better than me" mindset - I used to subscribe to that one. If you're job-hunting and you're worried about your qualifications I can't really help you out there specifically, but I can tell you a little bit about what I've learned about confidence over the last couple years. I hope it's of some help.
So first, I don't think you're actually concerned that there will be someone out there "better than you" and thus you have no chance at success. I'm gonna make a bold suggestion - you're depressed, maybe dealing with a little self-hatred. I hope it's only a little, not a lot. If it's a lot and you need someone to talk to about it, hey, I'm here.
"There's always gonna be someone better" is a mask covering up how you feel about yourself. The fear that you'll always be measured against other people who will - of course - be better than you because of your God-given suckiness, and then everyone will see this discrepancy and laugh at you until your pants blow clean off - it's just a big bucket of anxiety brought on by self-hatred. I fucking hate myself. That was the emotion behind it in my case.
The practical reality of it, for me , was that "there's always going to be someone better than me" is a justification for not trying, which is what I did for decades. Not try. Why bother trying to improve? I suck. I'm going to show up and everyone will see that immediately. It's an insult to everyone that I'm even there. I'll haul my fat ass up on that treadmill and go 8 minutes and fall over panting and my huge gut will hang out of my shirt. Fucking pathetic.
This is all bullshit. I mean, it's hard to say that, because it feels like these are things you BELIEVE and you really do feel like those feelings are all deep dark honesty, but it's just a bunch of anxious melodramatic depression. To call that stuff "honesty" is to buy into an anxious fantasy that you're ACTUALLY THE WORST.
You are not the worst.
Here's what you are: a human being, living on planet Earth right now, trying his best.

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Do you feel like you've come to enjoy anime more since you have another person to watch it with and is also a fellow fan (unless you and Jacob both prefer to watch solo, that is)? Do you like to group watch stuff?

oh man YES. It's a cliche - everything is better when you have someone to share it with - but it helps a lot that my husband is really smart and funny and cares very deeply about this stuff. It's the BEST, man.
Here's what I want to do: find an engaging, entertaining expert or a panel of similar guests for discussion and host a screening where the discussion happens during the show. We pause for in-depth discussions but otherwise we're discussing the show as it runs, like a live commentary track, with an audience. It's good to do these as double features.
So think about it this way: I'll host, we get Brian Ruh, Mike Toole and Daryl Surat and we talk over GHOST IN THE SHELL: INNOCENCE with an audience, decrypting the film as we go along. I come with questions for the panel and my own take. After the film we continue the discussion with audience participation.
The thing holding that up is the legal right to show the film. That's it. If I can clear that, I'm gold. I want this to happen.

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Have you and Jacob ever thought about getting a house in the future?

Man, I used to answer this question with "Boy I would love to!" - but it isn't and hasn't ever been particularly realistic on our salaries. Kinda tough to make a down payment on a house on anime writing money.
Honestly though as a cornerstone of "the dream", house ownership has dropped off the list for me and I think this is an increasingly common sentiment. 2008 was fucked up and that industry was never asked to take responsibility for it - until I'm in a financial position to just take what I want, I feel like I'd be entering that market as a prey animal.

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Any word about that Escaflowne review you mentioned last year?

Yeah, you have my apologies on that one. I really, really wanted to write about that show - but straight-up didn't have the time, and honestly waited too long to admit to myself I didn't have the time. I handed it off to Jacob, he's cranking that review out. Should be done soon.

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What book about Walt Disney would you recommend? I've heard it's kind of difficult to find a good one because usually he's depicted either as the Greatest VIsionare in the Universe, or a cruel slaver-like moral-free businessman.

Watch the American Experience documentary on him. It wasn't embraced by either the conspiracy theorists nor Disney cultists largely because it eschewed lionization altogether and instead presented a surprisingly open-eyed, nuanced, balanced portrayal that really wanted to show you who the man was. I've read "Walt Disney: A Triumph of the American Imagination" and it isn't as clear as American Experience was about who Walt Disney is. He was an artist; a frustrating asshole genius, and that's it. That documentary gives you what feels like a three-dimensional look at him. Go there.

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Can you think of anime deaths (be it either figurative or literal, or both surprising and tragic) that really left an impression on you?

Yeah, Satoshi Kon's death is going to hurt until I'm dead, I think. A lot of people feel that way. Bring him up and watch their eyes - an excited glint followed by a thousand-yard stare, like his name alone reminds you how fleeting life is and how the most brilliant flame can be snuffed out unceremoniously before it even gets burning.
Man, why'd you make me think about this shit?! This is all your fault!

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Hey Zac! So, with the announcement made about Wolf's Rain a little while ago, I was curious if you and Jake had any plans to do an ANNCast about it at some point? I looove hearing you guys talk about that show, it's my absolute favorite and you both talk about it with a lot of insight.

Thank you! We should, I think - Jacob's writing the review on that one and I'd like to discuss it again. It's been 5 years since I laid eyes on it, I think.

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Do you have any advice for someone who feels like they're intruding in a social space no matter what the situation is, for absolutely no reason? It's a very specific kind of anxiety and it's hard to manage.

Sure man - I used to feel that way. I'm not sure if this is the same thing you're going through, but I used to /act/ that way too, leaving social situations earlier than I should've, generally acting like I had other places to be. I thought I was coming across as polite, conciliatory, concerned first with the comfort of my host and the other guests - but it made people think I didn't want to be around them, period. There are a lot of uncomfortable feelings at the root of this, but the outcome was the same: you spend the party in a defensive crouch as if to apologize for your own existence, and people think you just don't want to be around them. They're right, in a sense, but it isn't that they don't want to be around you - you don't want them to be around you.
This cycle was, for me, one of the many ecosystems of self-hatred I used to live with (and still have vestiges of). There are some questions you should start asking yourself, and your answers have to be brutally honest if you're gonna make any progress, so that's the first step. What are you telling yourself in these situations? Are you telling yourself that you're adding nothing to this situation - in every situation? Do you rationalize those feelings to yourself, or do you examine them? In your head, are you an inconvenience, and everyone is annoyed with you, or just about to be annoyed with you? If you think about it, would you trust anyone - sincerely trust them to the point where it would actually help you relax - to tell you "hey, it's OK, we love you and we love having you here"? When you're answering these questions, try your hardest - and I really mean that, try your absolute hardest and don't feel bad for a moment if it's difficult for you - but try your hardest to see yourself for a moment as you really are, as you really behave, what you really feel and how those feelings compel you to act.
If what you're dealing with is similar to what I dealt with, this is a symptom of sincere, abiding self-hatred. These questions are surface - it's the further questions they lead you to asking, that's the start of the unwinding process. It's fucking impossible, but let me tell you man, YOU CAN ABSOLUTELY DO IT. You can.

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I hope this is not too personal a question but do you have tips for others trying to lose weight?

Oh no problem! So, a couple things to remember first: everyone is different, bodies are different, human beings have a rainbow of physical differences and biodiversity is a spectacular thing. If you have even a little bit of love for your body already - meaning you can look at yourself in the mirror some days and think "hey, not so bad", throw your arms around that feeling and never let go, because that little spark of appreciation will be your best friend through this process. When I weighed 275 pounds last October I didn't have that and it meant I needed other motivation, which is tricky.
Two, I feel like deciding to get in shape is, for a lot of people, something that requires an "inciting incident" - meaning something happens in your life that compels you to do it. Forcing yourself to drag your iron-booted feet to the miserable gym twice in a week, hating every second of it, and then giving up because fuck this - that isn't really trying, and that's what I did for like 36 years. That incident could be anything really - maybe when you finally do go to the gym, everyone there is really helpful and supportive and you're compelled to return because the atmosphere is fun and friendly (this matters so much, I can't even tell you). That could be an inciting incident. Maybe you have a health scare and you take it really seriously - anything like that, anything that gives you truly compelling motivation. Motivation that you feel in your bones. It's a tough thing to get and chasing it is hard, man - I struggled with this garbage forever and have nothing but empathy for people dealing with this part. If you hate yourself, this is the tallest mountain you have to climb and if I could rappel down and help you up the side of it myself, I would.
So those two things are key and it's important to think about them - how do you feel about your body? What's your motivation for getting in shape? These questions don't have right answers, but fully half of this nonsense is mental and I spent so much time in my head rationalizing being huge - it's a big part of it. Don't feel bad for a moment if you're all up in your head - that's everyone, it's normal. You're normal.
Here's what I did: I went to the gym, got on an elliptical, put it at like resistance level 3 and then fell over panting after about 8 minutes. Then I came back the next day and went for 8 minutes and 30 seconds, and "fuck you I'm tired and I went to the gym and did better than I did yesterday so you can't say SHIT to me". Then I went back 2 days later and did 9 minutes, etcetera. I started going 4 days a week, trying to improve my time when I could, eventually deciding I'd never make progress as fast as I want unless I go at least 6 days a week. I complemented cardio with lots of weightlifting, eventually favoring weights over cardio. Through all this I just turned carbs into a sometimes food and ate a lot of protein, that's pretty much the diet.
Whoa that was long!

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