Ima, kore ga hoshiin da! - KOR Followup, Fruit Basket and One Piece
I want it now!
by: Allen Divers (boxie at animenewsnetwork.com)
A lot can change in a few days. 2 days ago, I put up my personal feelings about AnimEigo's recent release of the Kimagure Orange Road box set. On Thursday, the 13th of June, CEO Robert Woodward announced that AnimEigo will make right what many fans feel is a personal insult. At their expense, AnimEigo will begin remastering the DVDs, placing the opening credits in the proper place (and hopefully proper sequence) at the beginning of each episode. A trade-in program will be offered when the remastered discs are available for those that purchased the box set. This program will be similar to The Slayers exchange program, with owners being required to send in just the discs, keeping the alpha cases and box.
My hat goes off to AnimEigo for this one. This is really the ultimate sacrifice for the fans that drive this business. Thanks Robert, for jumping on the grenade here. For a small company, this is a public relations nightmare that could have easily signaled the end.
Since my little rant went up, I've received quite a few emails, some supporting what I said, while a few of you felt I was going way overboard in my reaction. Judging from AnimEigo's decision, I wasn't the only one who felt this way. The online magazine business has a unique quality called instant feedback. Email has changed the way many people pass on feedback, both good and bad. The net also provides an avenue for instant action on that feedback. So, as a writer, it comes as no surprise that I get everyone's opinion about my opinion. I'm sure Answerman can back me up when I say some of the biggest feedback comes in the way of corrections. Often, depending on which side of the feedback you happen to be on this is called either creative criticism or nit picking.
Just so you all don't get me wrong, I enjoy hearing from those of you who take the time to read what I've written. Most of what I write about tends to be my opinions mixed about with actual facts. Of course, I sometimes get things wrong but occasionally I simply don't mention certain things because I don't find them relevant to what I'm talking about.
One thing I left out in my Manga extravaganza edition was mention of another major player in the manga world: Dark Horse Comics. Dark Horse broke into the independent comic market in the late 80s early 90s when Marvel and D.C. were the 2 major players of the comic game. Hitting the rare niche of independent comics, Dark Horse pushed out both hits and misses. Looking for new material, Dark Horse began pulling over Japanese comics to North American shores. The reason I didn't mention them is the fact that Dark Horse has remained with the Manga side of the Japanese equation, unlike Viz and TOKYOPOP. They also retain the Comic Market mentality while Viz and TOKYOPOP appear split between the Video and Comic Market.
One other critique I received was over the spelling of Inu Yasha. While, I did misspell it a few times in my article (bad Allen, no cookie for you!) I remained consistent with the hyphenated name. Why is it hyphenated? Because that's the established spelling by Viz. Fans have taken to spelling the name as Inu Yasha, so many question who is right. Officially thanks to licensing rights and the various privileges involved with that, Viz's spelling is the sanctioned spelling. Spelling is always a tricky thing especially when you translate from a language with a different alphabet. On occasion, a Japanese creator will create an official English spelling for a name, but most times its left to the translating company to do the honors with approval from the original owner. There are also various standards that are used when spelling certain sounds. Technically, the spelling by standard translations for Goku is Gokuu. The second u is dropped because it's not a needed letter since u and uu sound the same. This is simply a convention used.
Well, off the soapbox now, and on with the rest of the show. Taking a vast departure from their standard fare, FUNimation surprised everyone earlier this year by announcing the license for Fruit Basket.
Fruit Basket, based on the manga of the same name, centers around a young girl, Honda Tohru, whose mother and father have recently died. Finding herself without a home, she stumbles across a group of boys with a secret. 2 of the boys are classmates from her school, and she quickly discovers their secret when she hugs one of them. Each of the boys turns into an animal when they come into intimate contact with any female. Now, to keep their secret, she moves in with them. Hilarity, romance, action, its all there and despite a few wishy-washy moments, the writing is strong and the characters are engaging.
This series has Shojo written all over it. The central character is a female, surrounded by the standard gaggle of pretty boys. Sure, guys will find things to like about the series, but its target audience is definitely female. It's that target audience that makes this one a funny choice for FUNimation who have up to this point concentrated on mostly male oriented Anime. Their handling of this series will be very interesting, considering a goal for all of their series is to be shown on TV. Will this show do well on North American Television, where most companies target males over females in animation? FUNimation has made new strides in remaining true to the original intent of Anime, so a cut-up version is very unlikely. If this show does well, it could open up the market for more Shojo related material to hit the mainstream.
But just in case this series doesn't do well, I've got another series that FUNimation could do quite a bit with. Called One Piece, this series has quite a following in Japan and has been making its way in the fansub arena for a while. One Piece follows the adventures of Ruffy, would be Pirate King, as he makes his way through the world. This show is all about sagas and big fights, similar to another FUNimation series. The opening story arc features Ruffy looking for his crew. This then leads to various story arcs focusing on various members of the crew.
It's a very likeable show with simple visuals and outlandish characters. Slowing down the licensing of this show is its shear size. At around 100 episodes with more coming and 2 movies, this would be a large commitment by any company. FUNimation is ideal since they've shown they can handle large series, and they have a stable cast of actors to fill the roles. Any company that jumps on this property also has a ready-made audience, as this show is ideal for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block. The violence would have to be cleaned up a bit digitally (liberal usage of blood) and the language toned a bit down in the dub, but overall the show would fit in well with the action oriented shows of the Adult Swim block.
Although it may be hard to see now, One Piece is ready made for North American audiences. Sure, hardcore fans will say it's just another Dragon Ball Z with its epic battles and long story arcs, but everyone needs tales of good vs. evil where there's no question who will triumph in the end.
Well, that's all for this week. Despite my earlier comments, I look forward to hearing any feedback you may have.