Anime Turned Mainstream
Monday, July 07, 2008
As I look back on the golden years of my anime fanhood and compare them to the modern block buster shiney-thing animes for kids, I'm struck by the changes that have happened in the industry to accommodate the burgeoning western market, and by the western animation market to copy the trend.
To begin, it seems ironic that old anime fans, once cliquish nerds obsessing with their unpopular hobby have been returned to the dark corners of the room so to speak; mainstream market anime does not cater to their expectations and the titles they seek and that are developed for them are niched, almost underground, just like when anime was not nearly as popular.
Anime seems mass produced in a way more reminiscent of 80s saturday morning cartoons (and indeed there is a substantial amount of anime and western anime-style shows shown at that time) than the loving detail, character and nuance that made them what they were in the early 90s. Formulaic series are cranked out ad nauseum with variations and twists so slight as to be almost insulting. There are certainly exceptions; Full Metal Alchemist and Death Note are both excellent for different reasons, and Death Note in particular skillfully plays to both the hard core anime nutjob^H^H^H^H^H^H fan and the casual tv viewer, but for the most part I find myself losing interest in the genre.
I'm also getting older, and perhaps don't have the time and energy I would once spend looking for and researching titles with interesting premises or original characters. I definitely don't have the paitience for Naruto, with its extended, dbz-esque, full episode, talk-while-you-fight techniques. I don't blame you if you like it; it certainly looks and sounds fun, character and attitude wise but I just can't get into it.
I find myself looking back instead of forwards. I recently watched the first season of Star Blazers again, and while amused by the gigantic plot holes, horrendous dubbing and dated animation, I was also graciated by the sheer humanity of the show and story. It gets you not because it's pretty or slick, but with a plain visceral attachment to the characters and the desire to see how it all turns out. I plan to get my hands on the Comet Empire saga next. I was talking recently about Slayers and Escaflowne and plan to revive them as well.
I've struggled with the question of if it's me that's changed or the industry and the best answer is probably both, but I think the industry should give a nod back to those geeks who helped make the genre what it is today, and ensure they are catered to as well. That's just one old anime fan's opinion.