Sunday, October 17, 2010

My History With Anime And Some Of My Favorites Part 1

This'll be more of a casual style post, as I don't really have a format to follow.

So just after the bump, there's a cat...kinda

When I was younger I was part of the generation that would wake up early on Saturday Mornings to watch a cavalcade of great kids shows, from live action ("Power Rangers", "Reality Check", etc.), to Cartoons ("Looney Toons", "Eeek the Cat", etc.), to Anime, which will be our discussion today.

Now when I started watching Saturday Morning shows, it was 1990, so I missed out on Anime like "Voltron", "Transformers", "Thundercats" in their initial run (More on them later). My first two Anime shows that I ever saw, even before "Superbook", was "Sailor Moon" & "Dragonball". Let's start with the former.

English Opening

Japanese Opening

"Sailor Moon" aired in my area at around 4 AM, I remember being sleepy eyed and hunched over the TV as I saw this world completely unknown to me. "What's with all the girls in the same skirts and the boys in the same shirts and pants?", "Why is everyone's eyes so huge, and why is it that anyone who wears glasses have the little swirlly thing?", & "Why is it that I like this show despite the heroes being mostly girls?" All these thoughts went through my head and eventually I came to the conclusion of that I liked it because it had an overarching main plot with epic moments that swayed control from one side to the other.

The forces of evil, "The Dark Kingdom" dubbed as "The Negaverse" led by the enigmatic Queen Beryl tries to take over the World by using the energy of humans as an energy source. To counter them are the "reincarnations" or "decedents" or "amnesiac" of the Royal Family of the Planets that are able to transform into the "Sailor Senshi" ("Senshi"=basically "Warrior" or "Soldier" but can be used for "Guardian"), dubbed as "Sailor Scouts" to stop the forces of evil from draining the energy of the planet and it's inhabitants.

It's formulaic that has been many times before and many times since, but it works so well. "Sailor Moon", which started as a Manga (A Japanese Comic basically) by Naoko Takeuchi, has been credited for being a huge influence in many things including redefining the "Magical Girl" genre of animation by having female heroines transform and fight, get hurt, and maybe kill or die to protect. It was big enough that it gained 4 Sequel Series named "Sailor Moon R", "Sailor Moon S", "Sailor Moon Super S", & "Sailor Stars" ("Sailor Stars" never got an English Adaptation due to use of nudity and gender swapping/"traps" in the season).

It's a wonderful show and made a big impact on me in that I became a big fan of the action/romance genre. Heck, I wrote my first fanfiction (which we all go through, don't deny it) about "Sailor Moon". When I got back into Tokusatsu in 2005, I was happy to see that "Sailor Moon" had gotten the Toku treatment, and in some cases of that Toku adapt I think it was better than it's source material.

Sailor Moon Tokusatsu Adaptation Opening

Sadly, "Sailor Moon"'s initial run in the states didn't last very long, so I was miffed when I saw that it's normal 4 AM timeslot was changed to an infomercial and I wouldn't see the show again until a certain advent in television. A fate very similar to it's 4:30 AM partner that was unknowingly going to start a phenomenon.

English Opening

Japanese Opening

"Dragonball" in it's initial run is still very hazy to me, I distinctly remember when Goku first met Bulma as well as the first fight with Yamcha, but that's it.

"Dragonball" was an over the top Japanese Anime adaptation of the Chinese Folk Tale, "Journey to the West". "JttW" was a fictionalised account of the mythologized legends around the Buddhist monk Xuanzang's pilgrimage to India (known as the Western Regions) during the Tang dynasty in order to obtain Buddhist religious texts called sūtras.

In "Dragonball" it was about a kid named "Goku" who had a monkey tail, who meets up with a technological mechanic Bulma as they traveled along gathering mythical items known as "Dragonballs", which was said if you gathered all 7, you could summon a giant dragon and make 1 wish of anything within the dragon's power.

Eventually "Dragonball" strays so greatly from it's source material that it eventually becomes it's own mythology and got so popular that it gained a sequel series known as "Dragonball Z" which could be argued as being the most popular Anime of all time.

English Opening

Japanese Opening

"Dragonball Z"was a Huge hit all over the world, it got so big that "Dragonball Z" was even on the cover of TV Guide along with other Anime faves of the time
And because of it's popularity, it gained another sequel series "Dragonball GT". Sadly though, it was under the duress of it's creator Akira Toriyama, and ended the franchise for a while until it's horrible Hollywood Adaptation "Dragonball" and it's "Not Bad" Remastering of "Dragonball Z" known as "Dragonball Kai" dubbed as "Dragonball Z Kai".

I liked the "Dragonball" series mainly for it's overarching plot. Unfortunately, due to it's many episodes, it started a trend for Anime of basically the "Never ending story" that is permeated in shows like "Detective Conan", "Pokemon", "Naruto", or "Bleach" where there is never an end for the show and goes on an on and on...

Well I think that covers a lot, even if it's only two franchises. In Part 2 (Which I'll make sometime down the road) I'll do a basic "I like this and that" type of an article of other Anime series.

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