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.


No comments:

Post a Comment