Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Satoshi Kon 1963-2010


Neil Gaiman once said that there are times and situations that cussing are perfectly appropriate to convey one's feelings about a situation. When I heard that Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika) passed away this is the first word that shot to my mind.

No details on what caused his passing have been revealed but they guy was 47. That's pretty freaking not old. I'm pretty pissed off that he had to die (hence the more stronger language in my writing) as he was one of the more visionary anime directors of our time.

In other news, the reasons why I have been on a sort of hiatus has more to do with life stuff and planning things for the next year. I'll return to blogging when more time has opened up on my busy schedule.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Anime Industry Then and Now Section 4: The Anime Recession Part 2: The Closing Doors and Changing Times

As I sit here comfortably catching up on a week’s worth of anime programming taped on my DVR (Kekkashi, Naruto: Shippuden, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, and Monster for those who must know) I decided to wrap up my commentary on how the anime bubble broke. This section required a little more research on my part since I had to make sure I got my facts straight on a few things.

Now I’m not sure how many people remember Media Play? Well, the anime bubble beginning to break did not cause their chain of stores to close down (even during the Anime Boom they suffered staffing problems and their prices were often stifling) but it did limit options for the non-online buyer to get their anime. A few years after Media Play closed down Best Buy started the cut back on their own anime supply but this was more of a result of the industry becoming less profitable.

As stated in previous articles the main reason the bubble was beginning to break was THE ANIME MARKET WAS OVERSATURATED WITH CRAP AND EVERYONE WAS GETTING OVER THEIR ANIME HIGH! Cartoon Network began shifting their priorities to more original programming and live-action serials. Toonami was officially retired in 2008 leaving the only anime properties on their channel Pokemon and any other show that had a direct toy tie in. On their sister channel, Adult Swim, anime has continued to thrive in present day (with Kekkashi and FMA:Brotherhood being the newest shows) but is limited to only the Saturday night “action” block. With these changes, surprisingly, three channels have picked up CN’s slack. Sci Fi Channel (now called SyFy) reinstated their anime block on Monday nights premiering fan favorites such as Gurren Laggan and Monster. Both Disney XD and Nicktoons (both spin-off networks from the Disney Channel and Nicklelodeon) acquired the rights to air Naruto: Shippuden (Naruto’s sequel series) and Dragonball Kai (a remastered shortened version of the original DBZ) respectively.

The DVD companies themselves ran into their own serious issues. First there was Geneon, who in 2007-08, had to close its doors with most of their newer acquisitions remaining in limbo. Each year since then Funimation has gradually been licensing some of their more profitable properties, most recently resuscitating the remainder of the Tenchi franchise and quite a few of Yoshitoshi ABe’s works including Lain. ADV also finally hit their limit after trying to promote every generic show out there and once again it was Funimation who came in a took the better half of their company and had several licenses transferred. ADV reincarnated into Sentai Filmworks where they have become sub-only and selectively dubbing specific titles but I’m happy with this change as I finally got to get Season Two of You’re Under Arrest. Bandai, while still active, has been forced to finally catch up with the rest of the industry and start releasing series in more profitable collections even though they announced they may become a sub-only company in 2011. Viz has taken a very unique turn as they seem to have a more primary focus on their major Shonen Jump properties and their still growing and diverse manga line. They still dabble in releasing other anime properties as their releases of Honey and Clover, Nana, and Monster show but these days I’m more hesitant to buy anime DVDs from them until a series is released in it’s entirety since they have been known to have slow release schedules (how long has Boxset 1 of Monster been out now?) or they cancel titles completely (I’m thinking of Hikaru no Go and MaR specifically). Amazingly they have a very good line of live-action Japanese movies that seems to be thriving and I am very pleased that this has been continuing.
Most of the remaining companies have gone the sub only route while occasionally license rescuing an old favorite or two (Nozomi/Right Stuf recently did this with both The Wanderes TV Series and Utena).

Going back to Best Buy, all of the above, is what led them to make their own cutbacks with their anime selection. These days only a few backlog titles and some of the more popular properties remain on their shelves and usually it depends on location. For example, where I live my nearest Best Buy still has a decent selection but in the next town over the Best Buy has only a sliver of anime stocked on their shelves. Still, my Best Buy doesn’t stock every title when it’s supposed to be released. I’ve had to rely on online retailers just to get all of Sgt. Frog and One Piece, and while they are currently having a great anime sale where I’m picking up a lot of titles I’ve been hesitating to buy they still haven’t gotten in any of the Gurren Laggan Complete Collection sets.

So in the end this is where we are at today anime fans. Next up I’ll discuss to phenomenon on how the internet both hurt and helped the anime industry.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Anime Industry Then and Now Section 4: The Anime Recession Part 1: The Abridging Phenomenon

Alas we have entered the dark times!

Well I figured I would start the beginning of the “Dark Ages” on a lighter note with the BIRTH OF ABRIDGED SERIES. Now, let’s rewind the clock to 2006. YouTube was just another new internet thing, people could put up personal videos and get some form of attention. Over time, YouTube became a haven for anime fans to watch anime illegally without going through the whole irc, torrents, blah blah blah deal. On the more legal side of things it also gave a consistent place where anime fans could upload AMVs (Anime Music Videos) and get a lot of exposure. Then something unique happened, one day three years ago a YouTuber by the name of “Little Kuriboh” decided it would be a good idea to make a fandub parody of the 4Kids series Yu-gi-oh. The little parody was called “Yu-gi-oh: The Abridged Series” and like most stuff on YouTube it was a nice little distraction from the ho-hum of our everyday lives. THEN a phenomenon occurred, more and more people started to watch this Yu-gi-oh: Abridged and liked it. It made fun of the source material (both the dub and the actual plot to the series) and had some pretty witty references. Little Kuriboh treaded on and continued to put out episode after episode whenever it seemed possible gaining a gradual “internet popularity“ which then led to convention appearances (I personally met him and other abridgers at last years Youmacon in Detroit). Thus, the Abridging Movement was born and became the anime fans form of stand-up comedy of sorts.

Before I talk about some of the more “well-known” abridgers let me describe what the abridging process involves for the uninitiated. Usually either a solo individual or a group of close friends pick an anime series and using whatever video editing resources they have on hand to record they’re own parody dub of the series thus “abridging” it. They then post it on YouTube where they are met with varying degrees of success. Often times there is no consistent schedule for when new episodes come out because these people do have lives but some of the more dedicated ones tend to not completely disappear off the face of the Earth (much like my blogging ^_^;). Because of various vague copyright laws You Tube tends to delete episodes and sometimes suspend entire accounts if a series gets enough attention. In some cases some of the more internet savvy abridgers then go on to open their own websites. Now in the more recent years we’ve seen abridgers collaborate on projects, one of the biggest ones being Dragon Ball Z abridged which seems to include every major abridged personality out there. But before we go into THAT let me pimp a few of the people who followed Little Kuriboh’s inspiration and went on to be their own “internet celebrities”:

Naruto Abridged by Masako X and Vegeta8639
I believe Masako was the first to really follow in the footsteps of Little Kuriboh. Now I do have to admit that while YGOAbridged had a quick witted sense of humor, NTAS went for a different type of humor. The series created a cadre of in-jokes specific to the series such as “The Log”, “Clucky”, and “Moo”. Yeah…you wouldn’t get any of this unless you watched the series. I honestly don’t know what about the series I found appealing but much like many stand up comics each have their own style and as long as they make it work within their own presentation then it’s all good. For the last few years both guys have worked on and off NTAS and within 26 installments they are right before the Sasuke Retrival arc.

Lupin III Abridged by KaiserNeko
You would think an old series that already had a “punched-up” dub wouldn’t have much to offer as an abridged series. KaiserNeko has proven us wrong. I admit, outside of some AdultSwim Promos I actually prefer his take on the characters and their situations. The one defining episode for me would be the “Banana Phone” episode. Now here’s where you take a weird ass episode and make it into something that’s actually funny.

Berserk Abridged/Gantz Abridged/Escaflowne Abridged by Hbi2k
Even though he’s gone mostly solo, I love his sense of humor. But what makes Hbi2k stand out is the fact that instead of doing one loooooooong series he rotates his queue by doing most 26 episode fares (and in the case of Gantz Abridged he cut it off as soon as the filler arc reared it’s ugly head). He also tends to reference the “manga” in cases where if something more interested occurred in the source material it was worth bringing up. Still, hats off to ya mate!

Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged by Lanipator
I’ll just start this by saying if anything unfortunate were to happen to either Justin Cook, John Burgermier, or Chris Sabat (I am NOT wishing for this to happen, ever) then Funi would look no further than THIS guy for their replacement. Lanipator has the amazing ability to vocally copy many of Funi’s leading voice actors (well, granted he has never touched Vic Micnogna…lest the rabid fan girls beat him to a bloody pulp) and it really shows in his YYH Abridged series. Outside of creating the “Neighborhood Watch Committee” Lanipator has shown how to take things that were already “hinted at” *coughkuwabarasgaycough* in the Funi dub and bring them to the next level. Unfortunately, between his school/professional life and working on DBZA Lani hasn’t put too much time into YYHA still meandering through the Four Beasts arc, but what is there is golden.

Sailor Moon Abridged by Megami33
What makes Megami stand out is the fact that her abridged series is very bare bones yet it works. Let me expand upon this, a lot of the other abridgers while generally starting off from not very much began to incorporate many video editing techniques that seemed daunting to newcomers. What I like about SMA is that it brings things back to basics which is getting a cool group of friends together and just having fun making fun of a show (and there is a LOT to make fun of in Sailor Moon). I do admit the “Serena is a fat-ass who throws up to be skinny” joke didn’t appeal to me at first but then when we got mousey voiced Amy, satanic Raye (best-character-in-the-series), transvestite Lita, and Paris Hilton Mina (with drunken Aussie Artemis) the series came around to becoming a guilty pleasure. Megami and her group covered the entire first season, the first movie, and have just started Season Two so it’s worth a look.

Dragon Ball Z Abridged by All of the above (plus Takahata101 ^_^)
DBZA is the culmination of all the individual abridgers efforts. As each person or group put themselves out there they formed a community of sorts. As a result (and thanks to the wonders of online communication) a lot of these abridgers got together to tackle one of the most influential anime/manga series around: Dragon Ball Z. The end result is pure genius. But instead of going on and on about how it works I feel it’s better just to let you guys just take it in for yourselves…

Special Mention: Rose of Versailles Abridged by Cassius614

She may not have come off as well-known as the above abridgers but Cassius614 deserves a special mention as she is VERY involved with all of the above and she also has her own abridged series, Rose of Versailles. Anybody who had been keeping up with my blogs know I am very much the old school anime fan so, outside of Lupin III, it was nice to see this series get abridged. What is really amazing is that it was THIS abridged series that finally encouraged me to watch the proper original series (mind you I was already an Utena fan long before this). As such, I actually get many of the in-jokes and political humor sprinkled throughout the series. Hats off to Cassisus614 for such a “sophisticated” abridged series.

In the end, for those of you hardcore fans who are wondering WHY am I bothering to cover abridged series it comes down to they are a significant part of contributing to the reflection of how the anime industry has changed. These days with online streaming, as well as the presence of such open media sites like You Tube these abridged series act as a podium for talented fans to express their own personal “love letter” to the industry. I can also understand why some of the more “serious” anime/manga fans may find abridged series sophomoric but from where I stand they are a validated resource in the anime community and one of the few things (outside of conventions) that bring fans together and inspire creativity.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Genma Saotome (Ranma 1/2) voice actor Passes Away and other stuff...

Sorry guys I know it's been practically a month. I've been rearranging some things in my life post Acen and so a lot of projects (including this page) got sidelined.
To start it appears that we lost another figure in the anime industry as Genma Saotome's (the huge Panda) voice actor, Robert O. Smith, in Ranma 1/2 passed away last week. He was 67.

A moment of silence....

Alright, I will begin my next set of articles sometime this week, it may be tonight it maybe later but it will get done before week's end.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Anime Industry Then and Now Section 3: The Anime Boom Era Finale: Con Going Madness and a Harbinger of Things to Come

Blerg. Life stuff. By the end of this week I’m going out of town to my second outing of Acen (Anime Central) and because of my “crazy” work schedule I have very little time to prep for the con (and see Iron Man 2) before I leave. I think I’ll try to wrap up my Anime Industry series before I go but given how I’m beginning the “Anime Recession” era with an article about Abridged Series that doesn’t seem bloody likely.

Oh well, so right now we’re circa 2003-2006, I’ve already gone on about what was going on in the industry but shortly after I graduated college I was invited to a friend to this community college anime con called JAFAX somewhere in the middle of Michigan. JAFAX held two significant points for me, it would be the first con that I cosplayed in (Shishio Makoto from Rurouni Kenshin) and it would be the place where I saw the premiere of the English dub of End of Evangelion (I had already seen the movie in Japanese several time and am still recovering from the mental scars). The friend who had invited me had a sister who was good at making costumes so it was fun getting measured for a tailored costume. I do have to say though that since the costume was a full body suit that thing became a nightmare if I had to use the bathroom. Yesh.

It was around this time period that the whole going to anime clubs thing started to dissipate. You have to think about what was going on at the time, I had Wizzywig to appease my rental needs (by this point that had enough rentals that rivaled my own DVD collection) and I lived in a student co-op (basically a combination student living environment, Smurf village, not quite a dorm and not quite an apartment deal) so I always had anime buddies to marathon stuff with, and with all the companies constantly licensing the new “it” shows going to public anime screenings just seemed futile.

Then shortly after I left the co-ops I met an acquaintance who work at Wizzywig. Suffice to say the bond was short-lived but he did reveal to me how much money the store was losing money and how within the next few years the store was going to be downsizing. Little did I know these were signs of the anime bubble beginning to burst. Similar to companies like ADV, Wizzywig’s financial gain relied heavily riding the anime boom bubble so when the wave was beginning to go down so was their assets. First thing to go was the CDs, then the new anime DVDs, then the old anime DVDs, and the kiss of death for me was when they stopped their rental program and liquidated it. After that occurred I found myself going there less and less, then they moved out of their large store to a much more smaller location somewhere near the local mall that was tucked away in some obscure mini-mall building. I recall going there 6 months ago just to buy a shirt for the last anime convention I went to and I was surprised how all they sold were a few anime/game themed nicknacks and that was it. This would be a sign of things to come.

But I’m going to leave off my the Anime Boom era series on a high note and speak of my first BIG NAME anime con experience Anime Central/ACEN. The irony is I’m returning to this con over the weekend so it makes some sense that I’m reviewing what my previous experience was like.

Well, after re-reading my Live Journal to revisit that era I could say that the whole experience was overwhelming. It was like a 24/7 anime party, the environment was really engaging and the experience was awesome. I went with a group of my co-workers (most who kind of split up during the duration of the convention) and despite all the intense line waiting and cosplay picture taking it was fun.

It was here that I got the autographs of Vic Micgona (Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist), Catlin Glass (Winry Rockbell/ FMA, Vivi/ One Piece), Steve Blum (Spike/Cowboy Bebop and Mugen/Samurai Champloo), Beau Billingslea (Jet/Cowboy Bebop), and Chris Patton (Greed/FMA and Sosuke Sagara from Full Metal Panic series).

…and with this we leave the Anime Boom era where dubs evolved, many series were licensed, and anime was very prevalent on TV. Now we enter a darker time where things aren’t flourishing as much, up next we enter The Anime Recession.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Anime Industry Then and Now Section 3: The Anime Boom Era Part 4: The Company Wars

Earlier in my articles I stated where each company was at the very beginning of the Anime Boom. Well, Pokemon being a commercial success, Toonami opening up to prospects of more shows, and the birth of DVDs gave companies a HUGE push to get anime out there exposed in as many mediums as possible.

It was here that Funimation transitioned from an American company that simply own Dragonball to a full-fledged anime company. Their first post-DBZ acquisition being the sci-fi series, Blue Gender. Now I gotta say that there was nothing remarkable about this series except that it had the things anime was stereotyped as. In other words, Tits & Action, and Gore. I seriously think Funi licensed this series just to tell anime fans “Hey, look, we CAN release something completely graphic and not flinch!” and anime fans responded positively. Following this was the much more sedate Fruits Baskets but with each new acquisition Funi continued to hire more voice actors and put more thought into their production of their series. To most fans it almost seemed that Funi has a split personality disorder when it comes to everything else they were getting and specifically Dragon Ball Z as we are just NOW getting a properly translated dub through Dragon Ball Kai.

Viz was shifting their own priorities around this time. But I can’t mention Viz without mentioning Tokyopop. It was because Tokyopop pushed releasing very popular manga series in (gasp) Japanese order format and titled it their %100 Authentic Manga line. The longest series being the infamous Great Teacher Onizuka manga, along with that you had a handful of CLAMP titles (okay, pretty much EVERYTHING sans X and what was not out at the time), Fruits Baskets, Kare Kano, Marmalade Boy, the list goes on and on. This was met with much success and forced the other leaders in the manga industry (Viz and Dark Horse) to rethink their release strategy and of course eventually both companies followed suit (weird irony here, which are the ones they are still thriving with a good number of titles in present day?). Viz focused much of their attention on their manga line but the few anime titles they did have they made sure had a strong presence in the media, I’ve already stated Naruto on Toonami which helmed Viz’s focus on Shonen Jump specific titles but I’ll go into the other series later on.

Bandai found its own footing with the release of Cowboy Bebop and the support of Cartoon Network for the majority of their Gundam titles.

Cartoon Network made its own dramatic change, it was around this time that they created “Adult Swim” which started of as a spin-off programming block aimed at specifically college aged to adult audience. This not only revolutionized more mature anime airing in the US but also gave an avenue for American cartoons to thrive *coughfamilyguycough*. At the premiere of their channel on the anime end they aired Cowboy Bebop, airing on September 2, 2001. Note the date. Yeah… unfortunately, because of the 9/11 attacks (which were a true tragedy, and I would like to state I’m not trying to diminish the effect that had on the United States as well as the world) Cowboy Bebop’s initial airing had to have certain episodes removed but eventually the series in its entirety was allowed to air mostly uncut.
Over the years both Toonami and Adult Swim continued to push the envelope in their programming. Adult Swim became the home of Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Fullmetal Alchemist, Bleach, Inuyasha, and far too many series to name (Wiki it people!).

ADV, OTOH, continued to do their own thing (which would eventually lead to their downfall). Running fresh off of the success of Evangelion they continued to license popular show after popular show. Now I have to be honest here, upon seeing where they ended up as a result, I can say that for every 2 or 3 good shows that the company came out with there was always 11 “fluff” shows that made me think the company was one of the worst offenders of “over saturating” the market. Still, much like Funimation, their dubs continued to evolve (and similar to Funi dubbed in TEXAS where apparently has become a dubbing Mecca of sorts) and helped make them a maintain a strong presence during the anime boom.

Geneon, suffered a similar problem, it simply could be chalked up as they tried to make too many niche titles viable series for the American market. I give them props though, since they acquired the rights to Chobits, Samurai Champloo, and R.O.D the TV which were all pretty popular at the time.

It was also around this time that 4Kids became the anti-thesis to all the companies I listed above. Their success with Pokemon and Yu-gi-oh led them down a dark path where they believed that ALL anime can and should be butchered to fit American broadcast standards. Unlike CN, which walked a thin line 4Kids jumped into the deep end of the crazy pool to make their point. This ultimately culminated into getting the rights to One Piece. Now, to be honest, I specifically only have issue with how 4kids handled One Piece. The adaptation of Pokemon was well done. Yu-gi-oh was a little dumbed down but was still an entertaining show. Sonic X suffered from just being a mediocre show in general (the Japanese version only excelled at certain points). I wish the English version of Shaman King got a proper DVD release, and I LOVE how the handled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But One Piece was an embarrassment to anything that had aired on TV before it. The editing standards that were put into the show (I.e. hammer gun) were just ridiculous and it doesn’t help that 4kids seemed to have no clue how progressively violent the series would get later on despite its cartoony appearance (then again, how many American cartoon companies make this mistake).

However, this was the big deal with the company wars, everybody trying to get their product out and promoted as much as possible. Of course, quite a few of these companies would suffer the backlash of doing this but I will get into that in the later part of my article series.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Anime Industry Then and Now Section 3: The Anime Boom Era Part 3: DVDs are the New Hotness, and Fansubs Evolved

The Anime Boom hit like a tidal wave. One of the key things that happened in this era was the prospect of DVDs. To be honest, I don’t exactly recall how I got into DVDs. When popular media shifts abruptly you’re either in the “in the know” boat or you’re not. It’s kind of like how Tina Fey’s character in Date Night (peoplemustseethismovie) didn’t know what flash drives were until her husband, Steve Carrell, explained it to her and she realized she was just using a different name for them. Point is, I began to notice the shift to DVDs in the fandom much like how present day I find myself investing in more and more Blu-Rays. But there were some key things that made me a DVD buyer.

Around my 20th birthday I was given an APEX 5 Tray DVD Player by my parents. The player itself was a bitch to operate. At the time it could barely read any of my discs and often times it would freeze and I would have to restart it. It had long loading times and was just…annoying. My first series I put an investment on the DVD side of things was Battle Athletes Victory. I had already rented the OAV and TV series subtitled from Wizzywig and decided I wanted to own the TV series (having the superior, albeit stranger, narrative). I actually enjoyed the English version and it was fun comparing and contrasting the differences and similarities between the two versions. My second series that transitioned me further into the DVD was Rurouni Kenshin. RK was actually one of the last series I got fan subbed on VHS and I wanted to see how the series faired in English while also having access to the Japanese version. If anything, DVDs were one of the factors that helped mellow out the whole dubs vs. subs debate (the other aspect were dubs actually improving tremendously) since fans no longer had to pick a side. The remaining factor that made me switch over to the DVD Era was the prospect of the PlayStation 2. Around this time I was returning to video gaming after taking a hiatus during the later Nintendo 64 years. My gaming style had changed slightly as I was getting into Role Playing Games (RPGs) because I liked their character development, narrative style, and lush fantasy settings. Final Fantasy 9 was my gateway drug, but about a year later I was so impressed by the Final Fantasy 10 commercials that I invested in a PS2. Suffice to say is that because it could also play DVDs, AND PLAY THEM WELL, it also became my primary DVD player (once again, much like how my PS3 is a glorified Blu-Ray player).

During this era fan subs also began to change, as the computer and the internet were more common by this point many fan subbers went exclusively online and began to experiment with different font types and styles. Also, thanks to the internet they could easily converse and share information with others making the entire process much more efficient. Thus the birth of digital fan subs began to take hold.

On a personal note I should also mention that it was around this time I took a course in college that was titled “Anime: The Study of Animation in Japanese Culture” and it was a fun course. I learned of a lot of the WWII propaganda films, and the origins of Toei before they became “the people who animated Dragonball and One Piece”. It helped put a lot into context of how anime evolved within it’s own culture and how we, as Americans, absorbed it.
If anyone would like a context for how my anime DVD collection grew…

…yeah…that’s just A-M.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Response to the Bang Zoom and Yawara Situation

I wasn't going address this until the end of my Anime Industry article series but with Astronerdboy currently reviewing Urusei Yatsura and just because I want to get my opinion out there before too much time passes.

To backtrack, earlier in the week the CEO of Bang Zoom, Eric Sherman released a controversial article blaming anime downloaders for the decline of DVD sales. He then went on to announce the Bang Zoom was retiring from dubbing anime in 2011. For those of you not in "the know" Bang Zoom has dubbed many of CLAMPs works including Card Captor Sakura Movie 2, Chobits, X TV, and Magic Knight Rayearth. Outside of CLAMP they dubbed Samurai Champloo, Haruhi Suzumiya, Rurouni Kenshin, and Gurren Laggan.

Now let's clear the air here, Bang Zoom is located in Los Angeles. There is more than one dubbing company in Los Angeles including Studiopolis (Digimon, Naruto, Bleach) and Animaze (Cowboy Bebop, Ah My Goddess Movie) and various others that are still active and use the same pool of actors. Bang Zoom is like, the cheaper version of Animaze. It actually makes sense that they are not dubbing anymore. Their biggest employers, Geneon and Bandai, have encountered issues. The former going under and the later downsizing and limiting the number of dubs they do. Funimation has been helming the industry these days and they have their own dub studio. Then there's the fact that Bang Zoom hasn't had that much presence since Geneon called it quits. While I've been a big fan of their dubs I do admit they lack the naturalness of many of Funi's dubs and often times come off more "manufactured" like safe casting where you know X actor will do Bishonen voice Y. Still, big loss.

I'm far more reactive about Animeigo's being unable to license the rest of Yawara. Behind the admission that Bang Zoom is retiring from the anime industry this is a bigger slap in the face. Think about it, unlike Geneon, ADV, Bandai, Viz, and even Funi who always try to get into the newest fad Animeigo has always been the underdog of the anime industry. Next to RightStuf/Nozomi they have always aimed for series that had small niches of popularity among the anime fandom. It wasn't about the BIG series that everyone was into but the smaller quality stuff that went under everyone's radar. It was this type of dedication that allowed them to finish Urusei Yatsura after taking so loooong to release the series. It helped that they put out the remainder of the series during the height of the anime boom but they always had the patience to see things through with their licenses. So to hear that they cannot get the rest of Yawara is really a red flag about the state of the American anime industry. It's one thing when the anime companies that try to hard mess up, but when a small company has trouble securing the rights to something that is NOT good.

In the end this leaves me pretty numb, but I get why things are happening the way they are. My thing is if companies like Nicklelodeon and Disney are putting investments into keeping anime on TV there is "something" there BUT at the same time with anime having a more online presence through legal streaming (think Galaxy Epress 999 on Crunchyroll) DVDs have become more of the "middleman" and if that is the case it make sense they are gradually being phased out.

I will go into more detail about this when I finish my anime industry series but thought I should put some thoughts out there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Anime Industry Then and Now Section 3: The Anime Boom Era Part 2 : They Got Those BOOM Anime Babes That Make Me Think The Wrong Thing, Toonami Era

After doing some research (thank you Wikipedia), I decided to go on about how Toonami heralded the Anime Boom era. To me, Toonami (and later Adult Swim) were more or less the “anime channel” for the everyday man. In its early incarnations, Toonami was a kind of “retro haven” for classic cartoons that aired in my childhood. The standouts being Thundercats and Robotech. Toonami was actually my first exposure to Robotech, which eventually led into me getting into Macross. Around 1999, Toonami caused two major events. After airing the reruns of both Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon, they pioneered their anime original status by resurrecting both series. It was here that DBZ earned its newfound popularity that made the series almost as iconic as it was in Japan. While Sailor Moon never received the same attention it was able to air the remaining three movies, the remainder of the second season as well as the following two seasons.
After this move, Toonami began to invest in more anime series. They brought Ronin Warriors back on the air in reruns, they resuscitated ReBoot (yeah, not anime but given how the later seasons turned out definitely aiming at the same fan base), and then the crowning achievement Toonami became the home of GUNDAM! Selectively airing Gundam series based off of popularity we got Gundam Wing (2000), Gundam 0079, Gundam 0080, Gundam 08th MS Team (all 2001), G Gundam (2002), with things winding down with Gundam Seed (2004). Gundam Wing also, seemingly, set up the existence of Adult Swim by having uncut airings of the series during Toonami’s Midnight Run.
Throughout the early 2000s, Toonami continued to expand by giving public exposure to much anime including the Tenchi Franchise and Outlaw Star. It also caused a few phenomenon’s to happen. The first one was airing Big O. Big O apparently did so well on Toonami it convinced the Japanese studio to commission a second season. The second event was Dragon Ball FINALLY getting its proper 143 episode run on TV. What really made things excellent was years BEFORE it got a proper DVD release CN was the only place to see the re-dubbed first 13 episode of the series.

The crowning moment of achievement for Toonami was the acquisition of the Naruto anime series in 2005. The series was a “golden child” for Toonami but it also was the last great hurrah of Toonami as things went downhill gradually after this year and the anime recession began claiming victims.

Still, Toonami played a major roll in giving anime a lot of exposure during the Anime Boom Era.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Anime Industry Then and Now Section 3: The Anime Boom Era Part 1: The Golden Era Begins

THIS. For me, this was a Golden Era for American anime fans. Instead of jumping right into the article I think this era needs a little bit of an introduction into what was going on at the time.
Now everything that had happened before was like the bubble was expanding. It’s 2000, a new century (yeah, yeah 20001 is the REAL new century but bear with me). Going down the list here’s where all the anime companies were at:

Viz-Continued to release manga in flipped comic book form, they started to release Dragonball and Dragonball Z in Japanese format as an experiment. By this point they had released a good chunk of Ranma and was on the 4th season of the TV series, they had less success with Maison Ikkoku which they only released 1/3 of the series before putting it on hiatus. They also continued to release various anthology magazines to get exposure to more different types of manga, at the time their currently anthology was titled “Animerica Extra”.

Funimation- They had started releasing their in-house dubbed Dragonball Z videos with mixed reviews and were in discussion with “a certain network” for a revival of the franchise on TV.

Disney- Had two Ghibli films dubbed. A “certain media format” would result in them releasing one of their movies with a subtitle track.

Pioneer- Was one of the most thriving anime companies in the US due to the popularity of Tenchi Muyo, El Hazard, Fushigi Yugi, and Armitage. They were beginning to jump onto the TV series wagon with stuff like Lain and various other AIC shows.

ADV- Neon Genesis Evangelion had completely revised them as an anime company. They started to put out more TV series and got gradually better at dubbing. It was around this time they were putting out Sorcerer Hunters, Those Who Hunt Elves, Nadesico, and basically any thing an anime club has viewed in the last year.

Media Blasters- More on the map with their release of Magic Knight Rayearth.
Animeigo- Continued to trut out a volume of Urusei Yatsura once or twice a year, with the occasional release of something that would prevent them from completely falling into obscurity (Oh My Goddess, You’re Under Arrest, Bubbllegum Crisis, etc.)

Tokyopop- Remember that AWFUL magazine they released that contained the Sailor Moon and Magic Knight Rayearth adaptation. Nothing good could come from that…riiight?

AnimeVillage.com- Just so you know this would eventually become Bandai! Started a new line of videos (remember in the big clamshell cases) of some popular series like Saber Marionette J, Escaflowne, Clamp School Detectives. Oh, and they also finally brought Gundam to the US with the first three movies and this little new series called…Cowboy Bebop.

4Kids- Because of the success of Pokemon they invested in another show called Yu-gi-oh, and then they began to hunger for the taste of the dark side.

Now I’ll leave the article off here for today but as you can see a lot of the big names in anime were doing a lot of things and for those of you who know where a lot of these companies are going to end up it’s kind of funny to see the foundations for where they were going to go.

Up next I’m going to discuss how Cartoon Network and the prospect of DVDs changed things.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Anime Industry Then and Now Section 2: The Pokemon Era Part 2: Animania, the Dub Haters Club, and Anime Takes Theaters By Storm…Temporarily…

Despite Carl Macek's unfortunate passing the show must go on...

I’m gonna rewind the clock for a bit to give you an idea of what type of anime I was into during my college year pre-Pokemon Boom and how my college anime screening club Animania made me sick of their anti-dub stance. During my first year my exposure of Fushigi Yugi (subtitled) finally took head and I got into the entire series. Toward the end of the year I also got into Galaxy Express 999 (thanks to Viz dubbing the movies…WHICH NEVER GOT A DVD RELEASE!). My second year expanded my tastes as, along with Pokemon, I officially got into Slayers (dubbed), Key the Metal Idol (dubbed), Utena (dubbed but later switched to sub, dub vs. sub article explains it all), Rurouni Kenshin (subbed, but got into the dub during the DVD era). The reason I’m mentioning what language I got into these series is because I want people to get an idea of how I get exposed to anime but to tie into the next part of my exposure.

As stated, the University of Michigan anime club Animania had a very strong anti-dub stance at the time. What I mean by this is, I can understand if an anime club chooses to screen all their shows in Japanese and that is fine, but when I was watching stuff at Kodocha and Manna Anime they never went out of their way to put down the existence of the dubbed version of a show. I have to admit, this was all pre-Cowboy Bebop where dubs were still not solidified as being good but still I don’t think you have to snipe on the English version of a show EVERY TIME you want to show the Japanese version. During one of their suggestion polls I made an anonymous remark that maybe they could tone it down and focus more on what made the show good in general. I believe they made a public announcement defending that by showing the Japanese version they were giving anime fans the closest thing to how the series should have been seen. Oddly enough, the dub bashing stopped after they made that statement.

Animania, did however got me into Irresponsible Captain Tylor that year (1998) and Cardcaptor Sakura the following year. 1998-1999 is the year that began building the foundation for the Anime Boom. Disney began dubbing the Ghibli Films starting in 1998 with Kiki’s Delivery Service and then the following year released Princess Mononoke in limited release in theaters. 1999 is also the year I got into Digimon, the series often accused of being “a Pokemon rip-off”. Digimon had a lot of things that Pokemon did not, I got into the series during the popular Digimon Adventure (Season 1) “Eighth Child Saga” which drew me into the realistic settings and the fact that characters actually have tragic backstories and DIE! I mean, I was still into Pokemon at the time but Digimon was a far more dramatic show. Later on that year would see the release of both Pokemon: The Movie which had a series of “build-up” episodes in the television show before the release of the movie (ironically we actually did this better than Japan who made said episodes AFTER the movie came out). From what I can tell Pokemon was the highest grossing anime movies released and this set up the upcoming Anime Boom era (and just so you know, Digimon was the Sixth Highest which was just below Spirited Away…which got an Academy Award).

R.I.P Carl Macek (1951-2010)

You know, in the last few entries I mentioned a man by the name of Carl Macek who was responsible for bringing many anime, including Robotech, to America. Sadly he passed away today because of a heart attack.

My personal reaction is just of shock. In the midst of me writing about my history with anime it seems almost ironic one of the key figures passes away in the middle of my blog writings. You can say a lot of things about the man but he was one of the main reasons anime was pioneered in the US, and his passing such a great loss.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Anime Industry Then and Now Section 2: The Pokemon Era Part 1: Wizzywig and the Pokemon Phoenix

Well I’ve already went through the VHS Era which covered the majority of my high school inauguration into anime through my early college years. The reason why I define this era as the “Pokemon Era” is because this Pokemon created a rebirth of anime on TV (as well as resurrecting the popularity of the Nintendo Gameboy) that led into the big Anime Boom that dominated the early 2000s. Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z had a marginal degree of niche popularity but it wasn’t enough to make anime significant in the public’s eyes. But before I get into Pokemon I wanted to bring up an important aspect of my growth as a anime fan, Wizzywig Collectibles.

These days Wizzywig Collectibles has descended into a Japanese gimmicky store that sells the likes of Beerchan T-shirts, Japanese Nintendo merchandise, fluff pillows, and candy and it was that way during its humble beginnings but there was a period of time where Wizzywig was the definitive place to rent anime VHS/DVDs from as well as buy various anime related paraphernalia (calendars, figures, posters, and the like). Before Pokemon aired on TV, Wizzywig opened up a store just down the street from my dormitory on the University of Michigan campus. Gradually they decided to start anime rentals and many hard-to-find series (i.e. Urusei Yatsura pre-DVD) became available to me through their rental program. Wizzywig played a humongous role in my continued love of anime fandom as I no longer had to commit to buying a series to see what it was like. It’s rare that an anime fan (during those days) could test out a series without committing to it so this was a humongous blessing.

The second blessing came in the form of Pokemon airing on US TV, as stated before Sailor Moon and DBZ only made a slight scratch in advancing the popularity of anime in the US. Pokemon, OTOH, was like the second coming. Much like Power Rangers that came before it the marketing of the Pokemon name was a phenomenon in and of itself. It was kid-friendly, pimped by Nintendo, and engaging. Now of course my history with anime guaranteed that I was going to be into the series and I can actually vouch that I’m a rarity in that I got to see both the Japanese version (thanks to Wizzywig having a Japanese copy of the first VHS tape) and English version of Episode 1 on the same day. I was impressed how outside of Misty (Kasumi) slapping Ash (Satoshi) almost nothing, including music was altered from the US broadcast. Of course, over time 4Kids would get worse with such things but during that time they actually were doing a better job than the English versions of DBZ and Sailor Moon.

I recall that even my very Japanese specific friends applauded how Pokemon took risks (the episode where Pikachu and the others were separated from their masters and the majority of the episode was subtitled to translate the Pokemon speak) with their format. The fact is, Pokemon was a major event for anime fandom and video gamers. On the anime end it’s popularity opened a door for companies wanting to license more shows to show on public TV. The show proved that anime could succeed and thrive on television in a way the previous efforts could not. Even it present day it’s one of the few anime shows that Cartoon Network had not dropped because it has the financial backing to support it.

This has a dual effect of sorts, on one hand it gave the opportunity for the growth of anime in the US. On the other hand it spearheaded the very things that would eventually lead into the big anime recession. Nevertheless, for now, Pokemon made anime something that, possibly, gave it a stronger presence here than even its home country.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Anime Industry Then and Now Section 1 Final: Where I Stand on Dub Versus Sub an Extended Commentary

When I wrote the original draft for this article I felt something seemed “off”. I realized that going into this aspect of anime fandom there is no right answer. How can there be a correct answer when it all comes down to preference, and perception? Instead I rather use this article to expand upon my personal tastes and why I did not subscribe to the seeming “hive mentality” on anti-dubs back in the day. I want people to know going into this that this is the way I choose to watch and be entertained by anime and it in no way should influence others to take my position. I’m not arguing for or against since I think both sides have valid points but in the end it is completely personal choice.

That being said, I guess you could call me a “dubbie”. Even while writing this article I’m currently watching the English version of Sgt. Frog (Keroro Gunsou) which has gotten much controversy for its “punched up” script and constant ad-libing. It’s kind of funny since it was the dub that got me into the series, then the manga, and just earlier yesterday morning I was watching the first movie (thank you, You Tube) in Japanese and I didn’t find the differences so jarring that I could never watch the dub again. Yes, the characterizations have a harder edge in the dub but thanks to DVDs I could always switch to the Japanese anytime I felt like it. But I don’t. Because I enjoy the dub. This is what it has always been like for me as an anime fan. I never say the English version is “better” because in many cases the Japanese version is, at least, more consistent in terms of acting, seiyuu’s, and overall production. Doesn’t stop me from watching dubs. Unfortunately, when some fans go into how I enjoy a flawed product or an inferior version I tend to get defensive. It’s hard to argue when the ugly truth is if you watch a show in one language and get used to its presentation it’s difficult to watch it in another language without things seeming off. This has happened to me on many occasions whether I start watching a show in Japanese or English, either way there’s a “language lag” where it takes me some time to get used to a different performance. A lot of anime fans tend to take this as a blanket statement that all dubs are bad and therefore anime should only be watched in Japanese. What I discovered is if you look at a dub as how it stands on its own versus how it compares to the Japanese version you tend to get a different reaction. But, once again, this is just my viewpoint. Because there are people out there who are just uncomfortable with the concept of anime being dubbed, period.

My fascination with the anime dub was pioneered by my love for Ranma ½. During this era outside of Ranma the only other prolific company was Carl Macek’s Streamline and U.S. Manga. Their dubs for stuff like Akira, Fist of the North Star, Project A-ko were just appalling. Typical dubs during those days would be a combination of bad voice directing, overacting, under acting, wooden delivery, wrong sounding voices, no matching to lip flaps, bad scripting, and very little consideration for the source material. Because of these factors, I could understand the fan base’s cynicism towards dubs initially. The problem was that as dubs got more creative, better, and improved the reputation stuck and only recently has receded.

Now, outside of Ranma ½, as I delved further and deeper into anime fandom I noticed that the dislike of dubs (this is completely from my perspective) seemed rather blind and not very critical. One time I remember during a break at Manna Anime someone accidentally put an LD (laserdisc, think DVDs shaped like records) of Tenchi on the English side for like 5 seconds and everybody freaked. I didn’t get why because the few seconds I heard didn’t sound horrible. Going back to the whole “hive mentality” deal, I really felt strongly about forming my own opinions on what was good and bad and determined that all dubs deserve a chance to be viewed.

This does not mean I love anything dubbed. Two series, in particular, I thought were “bad” dubs initially and I didn’t change my opinion about them change until the DVD era where after seeing them in Japanese so many times I decided to give them another shot because there were a few things that intrigued me about some performances. Those dubs are Neon Genesis Evangelion and Maison Ikkoku. If an average anime fan asked me what language these shows should be watched in my default response would be Japanese, but if a fan seemed open minded enough I would suggest that whatever language they choose if it doesn’t bother them then continue in that language. Eva’s dub was an interesting case because it’s what I categorized as an “evolving dub”, a dub where things aren’t very polished in the first episode and improved gradually as the series goes on (MI, Bleach, Death Note, Naruto, DBZ, and Escaflowne all fall in this category). Evangelion was the dub that seemed responsible for transitioning ADVs dubs from “meh” to good as all the dubs that came from that company post-Evangelion where far more thought out and polished. For Maison Ikkoku it was a simple case of just turning my brain off and watching the dub and at some point, I was so absorbed in the story I forgot I was watching it dubbed.

The other aspect of dubs that is more of a guilty pleasure of mine is dubs where they don’t follow the Japanese script at all and just make up their own show. If you ask why, the simple answer is “’Cause it’s funny!” while the more complex answer is “Because I want to spite all those pro-Japanese fans by liking something they would naturally hate!” Now I already gave Sgt. Frog as an example, and to be honest, its dub changes are mildly tame since it more or less is just a more Americanized slant on what was already present in the Japanese version. The earliest example of the “punched-up” dub can be traced back to the early Saban days of anime dubbing with the show Samurai Pizza Cats (pictured above). The show was basically one big lampooning parody with an English script that was remarkably witty, accurate or not. Often times you would have characters being very genre-savvy, constantly breaking the forth wall, and having extreme personality makeovers…and it all worked. While you could argue that all dubs on TV fell into this category Robotech (at least the Macross part), Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon attempted to keep most of the elements of Japanese version (albeit very Americanized) while SPC just went in a different direction. There were quite a few TV dubs that followed suit like 4Kids Ultimate M.U.S.C.L.E, Mon Colle Knights, and a few others I can’t quite rack my brain about. The second movement of dubs like this came in the form of a man known as, Steven Foster. As ADV became a more prolific company their dubs were divided into two categories, ones that accurately represented the Japanese version and then the ones that if you put on the subtitles you would have a case of “How They Lied-O-Vision!” The “HoTLOV” dubs tended to be helmed by this individual who took a fairly innocent show and turned it into a pop culture savvy (which would end up dating itself in a few years), potty mouth talking, and personality altering gag fest. Some of the dubs “tainted” by this man include Those Who Hunt Elves (mainly the first season), Orphen (same), Saiyuki, Steel Angel Kurumi, Sorcerer Hunters, and Cromartie High School. This all culminated in his dubbing “project” Super Milk-Chan. This show ended up being his own little personal soap box as the DVD release was a kind of ADV voice actor skit show with the anime being interplayed between skits. The DVD itself contained two versions of the show the one I mentioned with an actually funny script then another disc that contained a direct translation of the Japanese version. Ironically it was the later that had a run on Adult Swim, instead of the former which fit their format better. His last big project was the dubbing of Ghost Stories. Cliff notes version, Japanese version was a Scooby Doo-esque kids show the English version would give South Park a run for its money (one episode involved a teacher being good with her mouth and doorknobs…yeah…). While Steven Foster has been more or less quiet these days this tradition has continued in the Funi dubs of Shin-Chan and Sgt. Frog.

Now there are dubs I have very little tolerance for I wanted to cover what shows I not only hands down prefer the Japanese version but some have an English version that is so horrendous I would never recommend it to anyone.

First is Macross: Clash of the Bionoids. Aussie accents, bad editing, and complete rape of Macross: Do You Remember Love? the only thing they got right was the names. Next is the Crest/Banner of the Stars series where the acting was so stilted I couldn’t make it past the first episode without switching the language track. Most of 4kids series I tend not to come down too hard on but I do not know what the hell they were thinking with One Piece, at least Dragonball and Sailor Moon were watchable. Speaking of Sailor Moon, this is a perfect example of a “de-evolving” dub. The first 65 episodes were decent but everything that came after was a gradual descent into crappy with inconsistent performances and no quality control. Then there is the Saber Marionette series which suffers from multiple dubs of varying quality. While stuff like Oh My Goddess can pull this off by always having good performances, this was the reverse and it didn’t help the Japanese version was perfect. I hesitate to put Revolutionary Girl Utena on this list because it actually is a decent dub but unfortunately the performance of a major character and their importance in later parts of the series brought down the whole dub and makes me prefer watching it in Japanese instead. Finally, Urusei Yatsura, hasn’t had one competent dub to save its life. Dubbed 4 different times (Obnoxious Aliens dub, Beautiful Dreamer dub, the international British dub, and the in-house movie dubs) it has never carried over the series humor or characterization (and is just plain‘ bad). A lot of fans consider the Beautiful Dreamer dub is the closest thing to a “good” dub but outside of certain performances the dub is wooden and screams mediocre something the actual movie is not. The British dub is much like the punched-up dubs I mentioned earlier and is actually really funny…if it wasn’t so…English. I do think if Viz’s Ocean or Funimation handled the dub of this series it could have a successful dub but otherwise, no dice.

There is one pro-dubbie stance that I never understood. The whole “I like dubs because it hard to read the subtitles and it distracts me from the visuals.” What?! I don’t know how this argument holds any water. I do think dubs are great for multi-tasking like if you’re on the computer or reading manga or drawing but the whole hard to read subtitles thing is a fairly easy thing to do and I don’t recall having to massively adjust to reading subtitles.

In some cases a lot of Japanese only fans are getting their wish. Most shows aren’t even given a dub these days and with the phenomenon of digital distribution the quickest way to get into a show is to slap a sub on it and watch it on Crunchyroll or Hulu. Still I believe the whole phenomenon of CN/Adult Swim proved that dubs have done their job and there’s no such thing as a show that’s impossible to dub. Also most of my favorite shows are still getting dubs (the Evangelion movies, Slayers, Haruhi, Sgt. Frog, Naruto, One Piece, Fullmetal Alchemist, etc.) so I’m pretty indifferent to whole matter in present day.

Whew. That was a mouthful. However, with that out of the way we will now cover the anime fandom and how it evolved during my college days kicking things off with the Pokemon Era.

Show all

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Anime Industry Then and Now Section 1: The VHS Era Part 4:I Want to be a Pioneer and How Evangelion Changed the Face of Anime

During my later high school years I continued to watch anime with my cousin (who at the time was my anime watching buddy). My investment in Ranma, Sailor Moon, and Dragonball Z saw my manga and anime collection steadily grow as I began to collect various Japanese-only items like Sailor Moon and DBZ anime guides, obscure fan subs of later Ranma ½, Sailor Moon, and DBZ episodes, later Japanese manga of said series and various other nick nacks. Manna Anime cultivated my interests in a certain man named, Hayao Miyazaki. I believe Laputa (Castle in the Sky) was my earliest exposure to his films and there was a running joke about what the original Japanese title meant in Spanish. I was also exposed to the likes of Slayers, Fushigi Yugi and the Gundam franchise but I wouldn’t get around to liking these shows until my college years. During this period of time the club got me into the Tenchi franchise, Ah My Goddess, and You’re Under Arrest. All three series I was exposed to in Japanese through the club, but when it was my time to get my own copies of the series I went for the dub (to be more specific I got the Tenchi OAV dub starting with Pretty Sammy OAV, then OAV series, then the movies, then the TV series. My cousin bought Ah My Goddess OAVs dubbed. I did buy one tape of YUA subtitled but didn’t return to the show until the DVD era, but I did get the manga for both.). My cousin then started another Pioneer series, El-Hazard which I also got into. ADV’s Golden Boy (dub) and Blue Seed (sub) also figured into there somewhere as well.

Right around my senior year of high school Manna Anime had split off into Kodocha Anime. Basically all the technical people who were the backbone of Manna Anime left the group over some dispute. Kodocha Anime wasn’t as big as Manna Anime but their group got me into Kodomo no Omacha, piqued my interest in Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, and even had me dabble a little in City Hunter. One of the key people in Kodocha Anime ended up going on to be an important figure in the anime industry, Justin Sevakis (who originally founded the website Anime News Network). Justin played a huge role in personally encouraging me to continue watching Neon Genesis Evangelion. Going back a bit, when he was a part of Manna Anime they showed the first 4 episodes heralding this show as the new “it” show. I recall being pretty bored by it outside of the first Eva battle. By the time Justin had moved on to Kodocha ADV has licensed the show (a move that would escalate their status during the anime boom days) and my cousin started investing in the subbed tapes. Justin told me that the show would change direction after the mid-point of the series and turn into one big psychological mind freel session and various episodes had controversial content. Where my cousin and I was I couldn’t see that happening but I took Justin’s recommendation and decided to get the later half of the series (Volume 7 and up) and I was glad I did.

There were two funny things that came about my love of Evangelion. The first was how I compared the show to Vision of Escaflowne. At first my cousin and I both thought that Escaflowne was some girly shojo bore fest…until the CGI dragon appeared and we were hooked. While time hasn’t been kind to the show, during 1996 the show was ahead of its time. Escaflowne also set the foundation for my appreciation of Yoko Kanno whose music was above and beyond anything I’ve heard scored in an anime previous to this series. By being into both Eva and Esca we kept switching back and forth on which show was the best one and while eventually there was a clear winner (in this case Evangelion but this was because it held up better over the years and was far more original) both shows acted as another gateway into understanding how the genre pushed animation, storytelling, and music.

Evangelion, played a major role in actually assisting me in my first year of college. Keeping it short, high school wasn’t kind to me in the later years and several events caused me to question my self-worth. This made my first year of college rather difficult to work through many social changes and dynamics which made me identify with the characters in Eva very much. The original ending to the TV series left on a positive message about how one sees themselves and it did inspire me to revise my own attitude and behavior resulting in me being far more adjusted after that first difficult year. Once again, I’m not stating this to make this blog my personal “Emo Rant” board but I thought it was important to mention how a simple show could have a major influence on me.

With this we conclude the VHS Era putting me at the beginning of my second year of college where this little show name Pokemon premiered on US TV acting as a precursor to the Anime Boom days and starting what I call “The Pokemon Era”.

Up Next: To bring things to a closure on the VHS Era I'm going to give an expansive commentary of the whole dub vs. sub debate and my position on the whole matter (it's not as black and white as it seems).