Alan Smithee

SLCC 2014 – Anime Gone Global Panel

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For my second anime panel at Salt Lake Comic Con, I was in an excellent group of knowledgeable peers in from the community. Our topic this time around? Anime Gone Global!

We started the discussion off simply enough explaining why we think that anime has gained in popularity so much over the last 30 years or so, for which I place the blame on American cartoons being terrible throughout the 70s and into the 80s. One only has to look at the formulaic and action figure hocking television shows like He-Man to understand why something like Robotech was infinitely better.

Anime brought upon the masses complicated stories that featured real life and death situations, the pains of adolescence, romance, and just plain goofy good times. Many questioned why we thought that there is such a divide between the two nations form of entertainment and one of my fellow panelists, Lien Fan Shen, a professor at the University of Utah, said simply that the way anime is produced is from a very bottom up model. This means that the individual, the artists, and the fans are the reason for the success of certain anime. In America, it’s the opposite with the model being top down. Simply put, this means that creative control and story are very much out of the hands of the actual animators or anyone who ISN’T the director or manager.

Ms. Shen also brought up a fantastic reflection period that Japan faced post World War II when the country realized that it ‘lost’ and wasn’t ‘the good guy’ they might have seen themselves as during the war. This led to a massive soul search that Japan needed at the time, and one of the ways they found themselves was through the art of anime. You’ll notice during that period and since that most anime generally features ‘bad guys’ who aren’t evil per se, but are doing bad for their own good reasons.

If you were to reflect this with the stories we have in America post WWII, there is always a clear cut ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’; one only needs to look at the comics industry to notice that dynamic. I couldn’t help but chime in saying that I believed that it wasn’t merely WWII that spurred these stories, but our puritanical past where we have an ultimate good and ultimate evil in the form of God and Satan…Japan being a Shinto/Buddhist country, doesn’t suffer from the same effects of polar opposite opponents.

The final question we faced as a panel was to find out what anime series we’d love to see a remake of and why. There were a few good choices, but personally I’d like to think that I picked the best when I said I’d love to see Magic Knight Rayearth get a remake because CLAMP was just one of the most amazing groups of artist to create Shojo works.

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