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We've recently had a question asking whether a certain technological explanation in a manga is valid. This currently has 2 close votes (one mine, though I was somewhat on the fence). The reason left on the post is the following:

This question appears to be off-topic because it is about computers/technology. Even though this happened in a manga, asking whether it's possible IRL is outside of the scope of this site.

That leads to the question: Is there any valid question for this site of the form "X happened in anime/manga Y. Is this actually possible/could it happen in real life?" or "X was explained in anime/manga Y. Is this explanation correct?"? What about the closely related category of questions of the form "What are the real-world inspirations for X in anime/manga Y?"? Can we issue a blanket ban on all questions like this, or are there cases that we want to keep around?

This was discussed before specifically about cultural questions: Where should we draw the line with "culture" questions?, but this question is about all types of questions, not just culture. The conclusion was that, in the case of cultural questions, the question needs to be specific to anime/manga. If it still makes sense with all references to anime/manga removed, then it's off topic.

For what it's worth, I've seen a couple of questions like this on Scifi SE, for example: How “hard” is the science behind the genetics mentioned in Blade Runner?. I could see similar questions getting asked about popular scifi anime here like Steins;Gate or Planetes.

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I think we should keep the same idea as for the culture questions. Using the question you mentioned, its title does not even require the mention of an anime or manga, and could be only slightly modified to remove the manga reference, and still receive an almost-identical answer:

I've heard you can several computers and use P2P technology as a front to force them to decrypt a certain file.

Has such a event actually happened before?

If we look at the specific X-Y questions you mentioned, I think we may want to make a special case.


X happened in anime/manga Y. Is this actually possible/could it happen in real life?

No, this should not be on-topic. This would imply that all anime-goers have an intimate knowledge of the subject matter they see as it pertains to real life. I can honestly say that I do not have such knowledge of mechas, basketball, or time travel, but I still enjoy anime which cover those topics and still remain knowledgeable about those anime.

Additionally, if we allowed this type of question, you could basically ask any type of question here! "Is it possible to do a feint like Ryūichi in Ro-Kyu-Bu SS?" You can see our scope expanding into territory that goes far from anime and manga.

X was explained in anime/manga Y. Is this explanation correct?

No, this should not be on-topic. It essentially relies upon the same information as above. If I can't explain how something works, in all likelihood I can't tell you whether or not someone else's explanation is accurate.

What are the real-world inspirations for X in anime/manga Y?

YES! This should be on-topic. This information is almost always specific to that anime or manga, and is sometimes explained within the media itself, by interviews with staff on the project, or by materials such as art books and pamphlets about the series. Even if a casual viewer does not know the answer to this, it is likely that an expert in that anime or manga does.

Basically, this type of question should be allowed because it does not necessarily require an intimate knowledge of any subject outside of the anime or manga in question. It will also often be the case that removing mention of the media will make the question unintelligible or difficult for an expert to answer.


TL;DR: I think we should adopt the idea of, "If the purest form of this question is not answerable by a typical expert in the referenced anime, then it is off-topic." We could even simplify it further and follow the same path as culture questions and say, "If we can remove references to the anime and manga and still have a standalone, answerable question, then it is off-topic."

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  • I think I understand your answer, but I'm not sure. What would you say to the following two questions (both from Steins;Gate)? "Are Kerr black holes real? How accurate is their description in Steins;Gate?" and "What are the differences between the original John Titor and the version in Steins;Gate?". (FWIW, I could easily and comprehensively answer the first, but not the second.)
    – Logan M
    Aug 11 '13 at 2:31
  • @LoganM The first could probably be asked as "Are Kerr black holes real? How do they function?" on physics.SE or a forum, so it stands alone and is off-topic here. The second is a bit iffier, as it's harder to remove the reference to Steins;Gate and still have a coherent question, but I think the focus is still largely on the real John Titor, so I would say off-topic as well.
    – Cattua
    Aug 11 '13 at 2:54
  • You could ask about Kerr black holes on Physics SE or read the wiki article. However, even if you understood everything they told you, you wouldn't be able to answer the S;G question unless you also understood the description of them in S;G, which unlike the other questions is nontrivial. For one, it's not really explained fully in the anime, only in the VN. Also, the explanation is broken up into several dialogues. It seems to me that question requires at least a passable knowledge of S;G in addition to some knowledge of general relativity, so I'm not sure if it belongs or not.
    – Logan M
    Aug 11 '13 at 4:02
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    @LoganM The first question can be split into two questions. One asked in Physics SE about Kerr black holes and one in this SE specifically about Kerr black holes in S;G. It keeps everything relevant and on topic for both respective SEs. Although I do feel like having an answer that compares and contrasts the anime's version versus a real life version is on topic, so maybe that makes the question on topic as well. While some of the questions recently seem completely unrelated to anime, one can always rework the question to force an anime related answer. Perhaps people need to modify their Q's.
    – krikara
    Aug 11 '13 at 10:19
  • @krikara Okay that makes sense to me. With that in mind I agree with this answer.
    – Logan M
    Aug 11 '13 at 23:22

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