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Answerman - Why Were TV Series Cut Into "Movies" For The US?


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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:49 pm Reply with quote
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Tons of boutique media companies sprang up over the decades, aimed at procuring the rights to independent productions, and turning them into something that could be sold to these local TV networks. Companies like we know today like Harmony Gold, Sandy Frank and Enoki Films USA, as well as less-remembered companies like Ziv International, Worldvision Entertainment, and many others served this market, known as "syndication." And they did a whole lot more than cartoons. They bought anything they thought they could rework and sell, from any country.


And if the poster's going to quote Momo/Gigi as an example, that was Carl Macek, though not for Streamline Pictures. 'Nuff said.

The only anime that could be cheap-dubbed for public-domain VHS, and sold to Nickelodeon or early Sunday-morning UHF stations in the 80's/90's, were those fairytale and scifi shows that could be "passed off" as Western toons, and anything else was edited into one feature that could be passed off as a "kiddie matinee".
Especially in the case of Thumbelina, which was a serialized story in the first place. It's still going on today, if you look at the "Kids & family" titles on the public-domain backwaters of Amazon Prime or Vudu On Us, where bottom-feeding kids-video packagers might dub whole serial-episode chunks of anime Cinderella, Peter Pan or Pocahontas as "adventures".

It's not MEANT to be a place where you find the anime-faithful working behind the scenes.
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7PhoenixAshes



Joined: 29 Oct 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:55 pm Reply with quote
Good grief. Nonsense like these "TV movies" really put the struggles the of the anime old guard into perspective. I'm starting to be considered an old fart in the fandom now (otaku since '05!), but the greatest hardship I had to ever deal with was when I exceeded my dorm room bandwith limits during ye olden days of piracy.
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Uter



Joined: 27 Apr 2016
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:59 pm Reply with quote
These are about my favorite articles on the site. This type of nerdy attention to detail about stuff most people would never think about is right up my alley. They are always really informative and interesting glimpses back in time. It's funny to find out about a lot of this stuff now. Looking back, it seems like anyone with enough determination could have found themselves working on this type of thing, but as a kid I assumed everything was very grown-up and professional behind the scenes.
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FLCLGainax



Joined: 10 May 2010
Posts: 587
Location: USA
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:06 pm Reply with quote
I'd imagine it'd be pretty difficult to adapt a show without a translation. It could probably be easier to do with anime based on well-known Western literary works, like the World Masterpiece Theater series. Also shows that rely more on visuals than story (like action shows with monster-of-the-week plots).
I've heard Harmony Gold and Saban did receive translated scripts for the anime Tatsunoko Pro. provided for them (Robotech and Samurai Pizza Cats).
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Kadmos1



Joined: 08 May 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:19 pm Reply with quote
In other words, these were "abridged series" but not of the fandub type.
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Primus



Joined: 01 Mar 2006
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Location: Toronto
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:56 pm Reply with quote
Shout! Factory put out a small handful of the William Winckler Toei compilation movies a few years ago. Of course, those were produced far more recently than the 1980s.
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KabaKabaFruit



Joined: 20 Sep 2007
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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:57 pm Reply with quote
This goes to show just how little regard there was to anime being anime at the time. They were considered cartoons to be shown according to the standards that were in place by the powers that were. The fans of anime at the time had to have really good connections just to see what the Japanese saw as the rest of the media industry didn't give a damn just as long as they made their money on the hackjobs they produced.
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Zin5ki
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Joined: 06 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:02 pm Reply with quote
Does Macross Plus count as one of these titles, given that its theatrical compression left it relatively unscathed?
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Lemonchest



Joined: 18 Mar 2015
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:12 pm Reply with quote
Zin5ki wrote:
Does Macross Plus count as one of these titles, given that its theatrical compression left it relatively unscathed?


Wouldn't say so. These aren't simply truncated versions of some or all of a TV show recut for a theatrical release (something Japan has been doing for almost as long as they've been airing anime on TV). These ones took the video & just hacked & slashed until something akin to a feature length film appeared out the other end, even if it had almost no resemblance to the source.
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I_Drive_DSM



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:31 pm Reply with quote
The modern process of fan subbing largely emerged due to these small companies.

Most of the "big" companies by the '80s had lost interest in bringing over entire series to the US, and the re-writes and chopping up of shows saw hard core fans perform their own translation and subtitle work. It was very difficult back then to get into the fan sub market if you didn't live on say something like the West coast or a big city (if you were in rural America forget it...) and clubs in the big cities would either get their hands on contacts that could do the work or fan subbed material itself. The issue was by the time a lot of this material trickled down to fans it was generations far removed from it's source ("generations" being how many times something was copied). Often, resultant material was in it's dozenth generation of being copied. Basically, imagine taking an old VHS, copying it over to 12 VHS tapes, but using each subsequent copy that you dub to copy to the next VHS in line.

7PhoenixAshes wrote:
Good grief. Nonsense like these "TV movies" really put the struggles the of the anime old guard into perspective. I'm starting to be considered an old fart in the fandom now (otaku since '05!), but the greatest hardship I had to ever deal with was when I exceeded my dorm room bandwith limits during ye olden days of piracy.


LOL '05 is baby time period fandom. I remember the first time I blindly mailed off a cache' of blank VHS tapes to a fan sub group I found online with return postage. I did get them back and being able to watch anime I couldn't find in my local Suncoast - the ONLY retailer I had local that even remotely sold anything anime on either VHS or Laserdisk - was crazy. Getting manga through mail in when it was still printed in American comic-style format was tons of fun too as you basically blindly ordered from a list of titles (thanks VIZ). There really needs to be an article done on all the classic manga from Japan that was brought over prior to the mid-90s when it was often altered and/or presented in different manners to make it seem more "American-ized". A lot of that stuff has been forgotten to the ages.
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mrakai



Joined: 30 Oct 2003
Posts: 34
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:56 pm Reply with quote
Before Robotech, Harmony Gold did a ~90 minute compliation of the first 3-4 episodes of Macross and dubbed them.

If memory serves, the main character was "Johnny Yamato" Smile

Mostly the same Harmony Gold/Intersound crew as Robotech for the voice actors.
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Juno016



Joined: 09 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:03 pm Reply with quote
I_Drive_DSM wrote:
There really needs to be an article done on all the classic manga from Japan that was brought over prior to the mid-90s when it was often altered and/or presented in different manners to make it seem more "American-ized". A lot of that stuff has been forgotten to the ages.


I would love to see an article like this if it doesn't already exist (does it?). I normally just ignore the bad times because we've come a long way since then on a lot of different fronts, but I'm actually genuinely interested in learning not just why they did what they did, but how. And I'd love to see some examples of works that I could look at just to study the history of localization in the West. I'm technically not that old (26), but I remember the comic issues of Pokemon and when they were released with page ads of Evangelion's manga (which is what got me interested enough to watch the anime when it released on broadcast television years later). Granted, the Pokemon manga I'm referring to, "The Electric Tale of Pikachu", was a bit of an awkward, more mature interpretation of Pokemon, but it really is weird to see it juxtaposed with Evangelion, of all things. Did they ever actually finish releasing any manga from start to finish completely in comic issue form? I didn't pay as much attention at the time since I was a kid, so I don't know if it was common to release a few issues and be done for a quick buck, or if the releases became dedicated to completion.
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
Posts: 4016
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:41 pm Reply with quote
I_Drive_DSM wrote:
The modern process of fan subbing largely emerged due to these small companies.


We're talking about chop-dubs for "features", which
A) is the little itinerant companies--like Funimation before they found Dragon Ball:Classic for the first time and tried to sell it to TV stations--and
B) the "camouflage" anime that attracts non-anime dubbers that would be just as happy dubbing French series for Saban, if they could pass it off to a Sunday-morning station as "normal" cartoons.

If Gigi got more fans interested in looking up fansubs of actual Minky Momo (and it was all I could do to try and track down the second series raw), that's about the only connection the two industries had.
(And technically, "Magical Princess Gigi" wasn't a chop-up, it was the "La Ronde In My Dream" feature movie, just that Macek had moved Momo's "idol" dream sequence to the end instead of the beginning. Cap'n Carl was used to movies, not series, those were easier to sell out of context.)

Quote:
7PhoenixAshes wrote:
Good grief. Nonsense like these "TV movies" really put the struggles the of the anime old guard into perspective. I'm starting to be considered an old fart in the fandom now (otaku since '05!), but the greatest hardship I had to ever deal with was when I exceeded my dorm room bandwith limits during ye olden days of piracy.


LOL '05 is baby time period fandom.


Agreed: If you're past the Bubble, you're not even in the first stage of Old.
Remembering Suncoast at all, VHS or DVD, is average status, remembering BT is minimum requirement.
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Sahmbahdeh



Joined: 05 May 2015
Posts: 710
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:43 pm Reply with quote
This practice is just so weird to me. I remember how bewildered I was at the circumstances behind Robotech's creation, and that this was apparently common practice. It's an awkward part of anime history that, while I'm glad we moved past it, has a certain weird charm to it.
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GeorgeC



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:27 pm Reply with quote
Zin5ki wrote:
Does Macross Plus count as one of these titles, given that its theatrical compression left it relatively unscathed?



No.

Macross Plus was originally planned as a feature film.

The backers of that project, however, thought that more money could be made marketing the series as a direct-to-video project so they asked Shoji Kawamori to reformat the movie into OVAs. The movie came up short in length so the OVAs were extended from 30 minute segments to around 45-48minutes a piece? (It's been so long since I've seen Macross Plus...)

It took a year for the OVAs (all four) to be finished. The edited movie version (with new footage) was released a few months after the final segment of the OVA version. The movie itself was never dubbed into English.

The Macross Plus movie makes more sense than the OVAs. The OVAs were vague in one or two subplots but the film was pretty clear about the relationship between the 3 characters and what went on there. To be clear, there's more story in the OVAs but the movie does a better job of moving the plot along and is less confusing. It also has additional dogfight footage and goes into excruciating death on the death of one of the central characters. It was a VERY gruesome ending for that character.

Out of all the MP releases in the West, I always thought the Movie release on DVD was the most piss-poor in terms of the video quality. It makes me mad we haven't gotten the remastered version but the legal situation is what it is...

As far as editing Japanese series into feature-length films is concerned, that practice has been going on for six decades now. There were episodes of Japanese TV serials edited into films under the titles "Prince of Space" and "Invasion of the Neptune Men." The serials were originally produced in the late 1950s and early 1960s and licensed by American companies (but not by better-known outfits like Sandy Frank and Harmony Gold). These films were shown on American TV for decades. They have been sold on DVD in the last 10-15 years. A lot of us know those two titles in particular because they were spoofed on Mystery Science Theater 3000 during the original 10-season run of that series...
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