Jan Scott Frazier

By Chuck Shandry

Jan Scott Frazier is known for doing what most otaku only dream of: Working in almost all aspects of anime, from design, through post-production, to original independent studio. Jan kindly accepted my request for an interview while attending Katsucon, a well known anime convention in Crystal City, Virginia.

Chuck: First question: You lived in Japan for awhile. In your estimation, what is the biggest thing the U.S and Japan don't get right about each other?

Jan: The cultures are completely different, so there's bound to be a great deal of misunderstanding. There are so very few people who stand in the middle -- who have an understanding of both -- and nobody listens to them. Americans think they can work things out on their own and don't like to listen to people who have "gone native," in their opinion; and the Japanese both mistrust foreigners and won't let anybody but themselves do anything important. Americans are under the impression that Japan is cool and hi-tech and that everyone is somehow more enlightened there, whereas it's not any of that. Japanese think that Americans are barbarians who come up with good ideas from time to time, and they spend more time fixating on details than looking at other cultures/peoples. The Japanese are more interested in current fashion trends than in what makes Americans think the way they do; and Americans are more excited about an incorrect media description of Japan (through TV, movies, etc.) and think that the Japanese are like Americans but different in some ways.

Chuck: To go on a different tack, what are the most enjoyable parts of producing anime?

Jan: Working with extremely creative people who are social outcasts and who do what they do because they are driven to it. Sometimes it's like working with a combination of revolutionaries and great artists.

Chuck: Where do you see the anime scene in the U.S. in five years?

Jan: That's a good question. In five years all the good anime ever produced will be available in the U.S., and since very little good anime is being produced right now that will make the market -- which should still be strong -- face difficult times. The best thing that can happen is if U.S. companies start producing their own shows, keeping the parts that anime is weak at, like scripting and storyweaving, to themselves and letting all the visuals be done in Japan and through subcontractors. The fusion of ideas and techniques will be the next wave.

Chuck: What is your take on anime conventions in the U.S.? They're not done, as such, in Japan?

Jan: I think anime cons are very fun and extremely important for the spread and health of the anime market in the U.S. Each con has its own personality, and I think each has a special value.

Chuck: We've talked at several conventions. Any stories, tall tales, or outright lies you'd like to tell?

When I was at Katsucon I was looking out over the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore and I noticed someone standing on the roof of one of the tall buildings near the con hotel. A softly glowing oval-shaped object came down from a dark cloud -- the only cloud in the sky -- and a beam of light projected from the bottom became visible.

Something moved down the beam of light, but I couldn't see what it was. The beam of light went out and the object vanished quickly. I thought that it might have been a hallucination brought on by lack of sleep.

Later that night I was walking down the hall and saw artist/voice actor Doug Smith and waved. Doug waved back with a grayish tentacle as he passed. I stopped and turned and Doug turned and I saw that there was something dripping out of his ears onto the floor. He immediately ran away and I chased him.

He ran into the service corridors and was making a strange noise -- something between the sound of Arnold Schwarzenegger eating meat loudly, a Neanderthal grunt and a squishy sort of squeaky-toy sound. I lost sight of him when he went around a corner and when I rounded it I couldn't see him at all.

I walked down the hall and saw a pool of some gelatinous stuff under an open elevator shaft access panel. I looked inside and he was slithering up one of the elevator cables towards the roof. I couldn't get up the cable so I ran to the service elevator and took it to the roof. When I came out Doug was standing on the roof using some kind of communication device. I yelled, "DOUG!" and he turned so quickly one of his eyes popped out. He grabbed the rolling eye and tentacles came out of his abdomen and then he leaped over the edge of the building. I ran to see, expecting him to be splattered on the street below but he was using the tentacles to climb down the side of the building.

I raced back to the elevator and took it to the ground floor, then ran outside. Nothing. I went back into the lobby, then up the escalator and I saw Doug at the Studio Ironcat table doing a drawing. I grabbed the nearest potted plant, heaved it over my head and ran towards him screaming, "DIE ALIEN SCUM!" Doug looked very surprised and the plant missed him by inches as it smashed through the table, spilling art supplies everywhere. Doug tried to escape, but I caught his foot and bit him hard on the ankle. I figured that he would start making strange alien screams or gelatinous stuff would come out, but he just screamed. (It sounded kind of like a little girl.)

Con security pulled me off him and he crawled quickly into the Main Events room and disappeared.

"He's an ALIEN!"

Nobody would listen. They thought that I had gone insane.

They dragged me to the con security room and made me sit on a little wooden stool, facing the corner. After awhile they made me wear a tall pointed hat. A couple hours later I heard snoring and the security guy left to guard me was asleep. I quietly opened the door and left the room after first picking up a flamethrower that was in a rack behind the desk. I strapped the flamethrower on my back and began hunting Doug.

I found some gelatinous footsteps on the third floor and followed them to a panel room. I heard strange, muffled grunting and squishing sounds, and I peeked in the door. I saw Doug holding Doug up off the floor and some kind of weird tube was running from the forehead of the first Doug to that of the second. I had no idea which was, so I decided to burn them both.

I kicked open the door and yelled, "GET OFF MY PLANET!"

One Doug yelled, "SPLURBLE!" and the other yelled, "Run for the chopper!"

I realized that the first one was the real Doug, so I sprayed the second one with flaming napalm. He burst into flames; then the tube connecting them burned away and the real Doug ran out the door. The fake Doug tore open; and I realized that the alien was actually wearing a Doug suit (which would explain the heavy wrinkles around neck and wrists where it didn't fit), and the alien was a huge sea anemone.

I stepped back and was suddenly surrounded by government agents who took control of the situation. They cleaned everything up and brainwashed everyone into thinking nothing happened, so that's why nobody knew about it until now. Brainwashing never works on me for very long, because I'm too stupid for it to stick.

So now that I've told you this the government will kill me. They've been trying for years anyway, so it's not a big deal.

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