Host: Jen “Froborr” Blue
Do you think that you know anime? I mean really know anime, inside and out? Do you think you know exactly what makes anime tick?
Let’s see if you do.
- Is anime animation from Japan? Well, Oban Star Racers, a French co-production says “hi.”
- Is anime animation by Japanese studios? Guess again, because Batman: The Animated Serieswas produced by TMS Entertainment and Sunrise.
- Is anime a style of animation? Wrong! Much of Akiyuki Shinbo’s work defies that visual style, while western shows like Legend of Korra embrace it.
- Is anime a show made for Japan? How do you explain The Big O, which was made for Japan, with the hopes of being scooped up for a western run?
Anime, as Blue argues, simply does not exist. Full-stop. With a snappy, snarky sense of humor, she demolished the four key points above,
You could hear the excitement in Blue’s inflection as each rebuttal was delivered, and minds through the room blew. It was easy to hear the sheer excitement throughout, building until she got to point #4: Is anime a show that’s made for Japan? “What about this one,” she argued, cutting to a clip from The Big O. She continued after the clip ended:
The series did horribly in its initial Japanese run, but proved to be so popular that Cartoon Network funded a second season. When asked about it, a Sunrise rep stated “all according to plan”.
It was hard to not hear that surprised murmur, as she explained that The Big O was Sunrise’s way of making their own western show, after their work on Batman: The Animated Series, and that the Japanese run would serve as little more than a proof-of-concept for American investors.
With the established realities of the anime world thoroughly crushed, Blue began her explanation of the “secret” histories of the animation industry. With a laser focus and a playful wit, she led the audience through the earliest days, tracing the advent of television and the great animation crash of the 1960s.
From there’ she springboards into a discussion on the rise of “sweatshop” studios like Filmation and Hanna-Barbera, and the advent of the toy-driven cartoon (Thank you, He-Man…), contrasting the landscape with Japan’s landscape.
Blue bubbled over topics like the introduction of Japanese animation to the west, and the subsequent rise of sci-fi and mecha, before bounding into the Golden Age of western animation that was ushered in by Tiny Toon Adventures.
At this point, the discussion grows more broad, exploring the diversifying fandom that’s found itself as neither eastern nor western. Moreover, she dives into the friction this new generation has encounterd with various anime conventions, many of whom operate on an increasingly outmoded “anime is Japanese animation for Japan, period” mindset.
With a keen knowledge of the medium, Blue set out to challenge the reality that’s become the status quo for countless fans. Through the entire presentation, she continually went swung for the fences, as she laid out one compelling argument after another.
Even as the panel came to an end, it was easy to hear the excited chatter from the crowd, as watchers discussed and processed the bombs that were dropped in the previous hour. Blue had made her point for more than a few folks, and probably found more than a few eager advocates to spread the word that anime doesn’t exist.