Friday, September 27, 2013

2009: The Internet Finally Takes Over

Feeling rather humbled by participating in the project, Raindrops (@DaydreamsUK) is a relatively new blogger from the UK who has been a fan since the early nineties. She spends most of her free time watching anime and speculating furiously about the future of the industry overseas. Choosing 2009 was originally a thinly-veiled excuse to mention her favorite show, and you can follow all those opinions on her blog, Raindrops and Daydreams.

As we draw closer to the fifty-year milestone for anime on television, we've seen the medium moving from monochrome to color and from cel animation to digital. Along the way, it's inspired a vast global audience and survived several new home video formats. 2009 ended up being a year bursting with the same rich innovation as anime continued to explore new approaches both on screen and behind the scenes. While I'm not sure whether any will end up as future classics, there were so many interesting projects on offer that I was forced to make some tough choices in selecting the series I wanted to introduce.

The first title on my list, however, should surprise nobody who was active in the fan community four years ago. Its sequels are still selling well today, its theme songs have become anthems and the script was often rumored to be "untranslatable" by fans trying to rationalize the length of time it took to appear in the US. The series I'm talking about is Shaft's Bakemonogatari.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

2008: A Briton's Guide to Anime

@IanWolf writes manga reviews and features for MyM Magazine, anime and manga reviews for Anime UK News, and a "Beginner's Guide to Anime" for On The Box. He has a degree in Media Studies from Teesside University, where his love of anime really flourished. He also works for his local anime convention, ONECon in Middlesbrough. His main ambition is to boost the reputation of anime in Britain, which is not always good in the eyes of the media and general public.

In this article, I will be mainly be talking about the anime industry in the United Kingdom, but for those of you from outside of the UK, don't worry; there will still be plenty of interest. Plenty of anime will be covered--some fantasy, some sci-fi, some historical and some romantic.

The thing people have to understand about anime in the UK, however, is that it has never really had a good reputation. This first occurred with the video release of the tentacle-rape themed Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend back in the 1990s. When it came out, the newspapers attacked it, saying how horrible and violent Japanese cartoons were, as all cartoons for the British were for kids. Attacks came from both the left-wing and right-wing presses. However, in the end the moral panic it stirred up backfired, as Urotsukidōji accidentally received all this free publicity in a country where the anime market at the time was very small. Sales of the video boomed.

Conditions were also not helped by the fact that many anime distributors in the UK at the time practiced something called "fifteening". Companies wanted anime to be seen as something different, edgy and controversial, so they insisted that their video releases should be no less than a "15" rating, ideally an "18". Therefore, if a release was likely to be given a "12" rating, they would add excessive swearing when they dubbed it into English so the censors would give the release a "15". (Editor's note: this practice isn't strictly a UK practice; remember the original Appleseed OVA?)

In terms of anime shown on British TV today, there is hardly any broadcast at all, and just about all of it is shown on digital channels. The only anime that really gets shown are Pokemon and the Studio Ghibli films. Recently the rather small Sony Movie Channel announced it would start showing the Bleach films late at night in August 2013, but that's still a small piece of the pie. DVDs and Blu-Rays are also relatively slow in coming over to Britain. For example, One Piece, arguably the most popular anime of them all, was first broadcast in Japan in 1999. It came out on DVD in America in 2006, but in Britain, it was not released until May 2013. Also, many releases get delayed or are faulty in production.