Archive for September 1st, 2004

Anime vs. the Governator: Wired Edition

Sep 01, 2004 in Pop Culture

From the latest issue of Wired magazine: Charles Mann reports on the upcoming films from anime giants Mamouro Oshii (Ghost in the Shell), Hayou Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) and Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira). The article touches on the influence of manga (Japanese comic books) on modern Japanese animation, and the influence of Japanese pop culture on the West.

An old roommate got me into anime about five years ago, when we attended weekly showings of the anime club at Ohio State. While there is some really good anime out there, like anything else, 90% of it is crap. This goes especially for the stuff they pass off as anime on American cable television. (How does a series like Inuyasha remain an incredibly popular late-night staple, while the excellent samurai saga Rurouni Kenshin gets confined to the ghetto of CN’s schedule and eventually winds up cancelled?) The sad truth is that truly stellar series such as Neon Genesis Evangelion or Ranma 1/2 will probably never see the light of day on American TV.

I’ve always noticed that American animation tends to stick to three main genres: 1. Comedy (The Simpsons, South Park, etc.), 2. Family fare (Disney movies, Shrek), 3. Kids stuff (Pretty much everything else). Whereas anime, on the other hand, runs the gamut from four-year-olds to extremely graphic adult fare. Non-Japanese audiences are recognizing this, and as a result, Japan is the largest exporter of pop culture aside from the United States.

Also in the same issue is the cover story on California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; a balanced, yet somewhat glowing analysis of Arnold’s unique political style. The article also includes a short feature on how to overhaul the electoral system. (The best suggestions: Open-source the electronic voting machines, and abolish the electoral college, replacing it with computerized runoff voting.)