The Click Super 2nd Anniversary Retrospective!by Brian Hanson, Mar 1st 2008
Man! TWO WHOLE YEARS! Two years ago, I was just some guy nervously writing about TV anime shows. Now, I'm just some nervously confident guy writing about TV anime shows with a presupposed air of faux-authority!
So, this week I thought I'd take a frighteningly austere look back at 104 weeks' worth of Click goodness, letting the hazy and gentle dulcet tones of nostalgia waft through the hollow and somber walls of the internet.
Before that, though, a few highlights of some new stuff that shows up this week:
Sunday March 2 1:00am - Episode 53 (Repeats Sun Mar 2 4:00am, Tue Mar 4 1:00am, 4:00am)
New episodes of Bleach start this Saturday! At... one in the morning! So make sure you yell at the bartender to change the channel to Adult Swim, or set your TiVo, or stay up all night in defiance of your mother's insistence that you need to wake up early for church in the morning.
Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles
Friday March 7 9:00pm
For you folks up in Canada, SPACE is premiering the not-technically-anime-in-any-way (but still surprisingly good) Robotech feature, which is big news for a network typically unconcerned with animation in any form. Or so I'm told. Basically if you live in Canada you should be firing bottle rockets out of your window and inebriated-ly dancing through your household in your underpants in jubilation!
Now, let's pull back the scarlet curtains of the past and look back at two years of Click-related goodness:
Ah, television. The so-called “cultural wasteland.” Our “window to the world.” Our “thing that we plug the video games into.”
I'm sure I'm not speaking alone here when I say that my first gateway to anime was through television. Each generation has had their share of programs that were offered as their first exposure the medium of Japanese animation; from the humble beginnings of Astro Boy and Speed Racer, to the space-faring adventures of Star Blazers and Robotech, to mid-90's kid shows like Pokémon or Dragon Ball Z, to recent more grown-up hits like Inuyasha and Fullmetal Alchemist. There's a literal bevy of Japanese anime on the airwaves, often in places you wouldn't suspect. Some great, some not-so-great, some great only if you take drugs while watching them, and others lying somewhere in between or at least in the direct vicinity.
That's the first thing I ever wrote for The Click, ever! I'm sure I got off on all kinds of the wrong foot and surely cost myself millions of readers and lucrative book deals and talk show appearances.
There are two reasons I am spotlighting Princess Mononoke, and neither of them have much to do with it simply being a fantastic movie. First, this is such a gutsy move on the Cartoon Network's part, airing such a violent, dark, long, and complicated movie on a block of programming that occasionally gets away with some blood on Naruto, but little else. Second, the whole experience of watching Princess Mononoke's English dub on Toonami of all places will be such a wonderful albeit self-indulgent bit of my own personal anime fan-experience coming full circle. See, if one or the other hadn't been around during 1999, the fateful year that my 15 year-old self both began watching reruns of Sailor Moon and Robotech on Toonami, as well as watching Princess Mononoke somewhere in the league of four times in the local arthouse theater, the thought that, yes, these oft-denigrated Japanese animated programs are exactly what I should be involved with in my life, would have never occurred in my mind. For both of them to appear side-by-side such as this is like seeing two good friends that have parted ways shake hands and let bygones be bygones. Except, there were never any parting of ways. In fact, that analogy sucked.
Hey, remember when random Ghibli movies used to show up all over television, and how cool it was that a whole new generation of folks would be introduced to these wonderful films for the first time? Why'd they stop doing that?
In order to stave off the madness of having Digimon reruns spoon-fed to my brain through a data-link cable a la Ghost in the Shell related technofoolery, I've decided to start things off a little bit different this week. At the behest of my editor/psychiatrist, I've made my own list this week. That list being, the Top 10 TV dubs of All Time!
(10)Case Closed (aka Detective Conan)
Here's a title with the odds stacked against it. An attempt was made to bring this ultra-popular Japanese murder mystery series to Saturday morning children's television in the late 90's. Unfortunately, the constant, bloody homicides in nearly every episode made that task difficult, and it was eventually shelved. Until, however, Funimation picked up the series in 2004 and decided to make another go at it. Aside from some silly name changes brought forth at the behest of the Japanese licensor, the localization of the series is surprisingly thorough, smart, and best of all, in tone with the Japanese original. I'm saddened by the fact that the series was never a hit, but that was probably inevitable with something that was too adult for US kiddie audiences and too immature for US adult audiences. You can pick up the first season on rather inexpensive two-disc sets; I highly recommend it for predictable yet highly entertaining Nancy Drew-style detective antics.
I know this particular inclusion is likely to draw groans and fits of anger from the Macross die-hards out there, but seriously, this heavily re-written adaptation of three unrelated mecha properties from Japan remained, at the time, the most intelligent and intriguing animated series on the syndicated TV landscape in its time. Besides, the original, unaltered Macross is now out on DVD thanks to the fine folks at ADV, so don't you think its high-time you put that Carl Macek effigy to rest?
There's also something to be said for a show that can capture the cultural zeitgeist as purely as Pokémon did in its heyday. The colorful adventures of Nintendo's copious critters no doubt got many, many kids to stick around and see what other niceties Japanese animation had to offer. That, and I can't think of any other anime properties that could garner a 40-million dollar opening weekend in US theaters.
There've been many attempts before and since Samurai Pizza Cats to “punch up” the source material with added jokes, puns, and other foolery. None of them have ever been able to absolutely nail it as thoroughly as Saban's adaptation crew managed to do. Amazing, considering that much of the scripts were actually ad-libbed.
On the day that Gundam Wing first premiered on Cartoon Network's “Toonami” block of action cartoons, as seismic rift occurred in the perception of how TV dubs “should” be. For example, minimal edits, no name changes, with the original music, and even the original “eyecatches” that would signal a commercial break. That the show was a screaming success solidified this fact.
Somehow, Geneon and the fine folks at Phuuz managed to both add genuinely funny material to their adaptation and still remain true to the tone of the original series. As odd as Shaq references are in an animated series created in the 1970's, somehow it all works.
Fred Ladd's original dub of the first anime TV series ever still remains one of the best. Obviously it hasn't held up the greatest when compared to how easily anime series can be dubbed in these modern, computerized times, but considering the small staff and especially small budget Ladd had to work with, it's surprisingly dark and edgy compared to the fluffy kids' programming of the time.
Funimation used all of the clout they gained from transforming Dragon Ball Z into a full-fledged mega-hit by doing the unexpected; dubbing the original, 1986 Dragon Ball series with stunning accuracy and reverence.
Nevermind the quibbling over the mildly annoying catchphrase of “Believe it!” or the outcry over the loss of the Japanese opening and endings (sadly, American television doesn't allow for 90 precious seconds that could instead be used for commercails). Viz's TV dub of definitely the biggest anime property in the past many years took everyone in the industry by surprise. There was much skepticism of how some of the darker, more sinister aspects of the series could be handled on what is, essentially, children's television – then, the show premiered with a TV-PG rating and with episodes virtually uncut.
The FMA dub is a perfect adaptation, in the sense that it both stays very close the original Japanese script but also flows like it wasn't a translation at all. I couldn't think of a better vehicle to demonstrate the effectiveness of anime and especially animation in general in portraying drama and intrigue.
The result of this list? I nearly had my Anime Fan badge and Trigun prop-gun revoked by the folks in the forums. I learned something: No more glib lists.
Good morning, evening, whatever time of day it is you damn kids are done checking your MySpaces and whatnot and start to read other websites. This is The Click, rising from the ashes of ANN's server crash like so many malnourished zombies, ready to ravage the land of TV grids and listings in order to pick out the juiciest, freshest anime programs for your consumption.
But before we get into all of that, I just wanted to share with everyone a fantastic dream I had the other night. No, not a dream; a vision. Look, we all know anime on TV targeted towards adults is simply circling the drain, for a number of reasons: casual audiences aren't ready to watch cartoons that take themselves more seriously than South Park; hardcore anime fans are too uptight to watch dubbed, time-shortened episodes of shows they've already seen; the timeslots given to these shows are terrible and they receive no promotion. We know all that. But then I started thinking, what if, to follow in Spike TV's footsteps with their forthcoming Afro Samurai, a show was produced to fit almost perfectly with the tastes of the coveted 18-34 demographic?
And then, one night, such a thing appeared to me. “MANNIX: The Anime.” Yes, hard-drinkin', hard-fightin' tough guy Joe Mannix, back in the saddle in a not-too-distant dystopian future where only his two fists and lots of car chases separate justice from, uh, injustice. There were also lots and lots of cool-looking aliens and robots. And instead of his sassy black secretary, Anime Mannix From the Future has a cute, spunky little girl orphan (to, y'know, get that “moe” crowd watching) as well as her lovably ostentatious mecha guardian to handle his paperwork. In a pinch, the two can team up to form MOE-BOT, which Anime Mannix From the Future uses to mow down bad guys and is also in negotiations with several leading toy manufacturers for marketing purposes. In short, lots of action, no pretension, and drama in the form of drinking, fistfights, and exploding cars. With robot and aliens. When I awoke, I knew I had been guided by some divine force, telling me to preach this message on high from the tallest pedestal: “A Mannix anime would solve ALL problems. Forever.”
I still haven't given up on a Mannix anime. I *never* will.
Hi folks, me again. Welcome to another veritable cornucopia of dates, times, and channels telling you when and where those nuggets of anime goodness can be found amidst the vast expanse of US television.
But before we begin, I'd like to elucidate you all, good readers, as to what exactly goes into your weekly The Click column. No doubt, all ten of you who enjoy my column on a regular basis are cringing with anticipation upon reading every word, muttering under each heavy breath, “How does this madman do it?!?”
Fret not, gentle regulars! For you see, it all begins with a small but essential government stipend. This stipend is then funneled through various organizations until it becomes official property of the mafia. Kickbacks are enjoyed, international smuggling rings are established, reported to the FBI, and promptly raided; later, property is seized, sentences are filed, probation is offered and then denied, and finally everything resets back to normal after a wild and violent high speed prison escape/shootout.
Next, it is time to visit The Wizard. The Wizard then climbs atop his Studio Apartment of Sorcery calls forth dark powers, which bring to him news of plagues, disease, war, and other atrocities. Also, The Wizard summons websites like Zap2it to inform him of which shows are airing, and where and when. Once the week's data has been compiled, it is time to burn The Wizard. His ashes are then spread across the land, purifying and protecting it for the next one-thousand years.
Afterwards, it is time to choose the featured program. This is done through a highly scientific process involving several chickens on non-FDA approved brain hormone drugs. The chickens are shown the aforementioned data, and are instructed to agree upon, through democracy, the individual program most deserving of an accolade. This concept fails when the chickens only agree upon the tastiness of corn, and in fact turn in a 97-page .pdf file of nothing but “I LIKE CORN” in varying fonts and sizes. The chickens are then sold to slavery in those odd machines often found in rural county fairs, wherein the chickens must do a stupid dance whenever a kid is dumb enough to put two quarters in the slot. The actual Click Pick of the Week is settled upon by myself and several focus groups throughout the greater United States midwest.
Finally, the column's intro and commentary are written by myself inbetwixt various incarcerations, and the finished draft is submitted to dozens of lawyers, special interest groups, US politicians, and professional snowboarders pending approval. Then, something involving computers happens, and the finished column appears online!
Two years later, this is still accurate.
Be back next week everybody, with a NEW column that isn't stale and smelly!
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