Otaku's Voice - Has Anime Come Full Circle?

Dec 9th 2002
The Columbus College of Art and Design had a exhibition about anime entitled "Anime: From Pokémon to Apocalypse." The school organized a well thought up gallery with cells dating back from the Osamu Tezuka's "Unico" to Mad House's "Vampire Hunter D: Blood Lust." Behind the cells they had quotes from the popular anime series. One quote I remember from the wall was from Ranma ½ said, "You are soo uncute." They even had a brack down of how Animators in Japan shoot each individual cell. The cells started showing the background layout and ending with visual effects (i.e. sweat droplets).

During the exhibition there was an evening symposium. The panelists included: Negar Mottahedeh, Assistant Professor of Literature and Film Studies, Duke University, Laura Burkhalter, Curatorial Assitant, "My Reality: Contemporary Art and the Culture of Japanese Animation," and Susan Napier, Mitsubishi Professor of Japanese Studies, the University of Texas in Austin. The panel subjects ranged from Introduction to Anime, a slide presentation of My Reality, and ending with The Role of Anime in Cultures. During the questions session people asked the same questions people have been asking over and over again. At the end of the session I posed a question to each of the Panelists. Has Anime gone full circle? Each of the panelists talked to each other. Dr. Napier answered with a resounding yes.

I agree with Dr. Napier and the other panelists. Many Japanese Animators were influenced by early American animation, such as "Betty Boop." Today many American Animators, such as Craig McCracken and Gendy Tarkofsky are greatly influenced by anime. It is prevalent in their works from "Power Puff Girls" to "Samurai Jack." It is obvious with the Power Puff Girl's big eyes and small mouth. With Samurai Jack it doesn't have a lot of the big-eyed character, rather it is the story, backgrounds, and the characters similar to those created by Miyazaki.

During the symposium Dr. Napier commented that the character designs in some anime series look more American and European. Could mean that the big eye craze is dying down or it is simply reorganizing itself. Series such as FLCL (Furi Curi) show the fast cutting movements in most music videos in the States or Europe. The movement of the characters seems to defy all logic and gravity (i.e. Old Warner Brothers Cartoons). With the recent popularity of the "Power Puff Girls" in Japan one can guess that American animation is creeping slowly in the homes of many Anime fans.

One interesting comment to make concerning if Anime has gone full circle ponder this. In Ghost in the Shell during the boat scene we see Mamoru Oshii's dog staring back at Kuniagi and the Audience. In the Power Puff Girls: the Movie, when one of mojo's clones slash a building we see for a split second all the animators and Mr. McCracken looking at the audience. This could explain everything or it could explain nothing. You be the judge.

Now if you excuse me I'm going to flying my Vespa playing "Stair Way to
Heaven."

"GOOD NIGHT TOKYO, WE LOVE YOU!!!!"

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