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Re: Space Anime

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  • Eric Hunting
    I was always impressed with the Planetes series. Had a very good sense of humor and really made an effort for technical plausibility. Also well made the point
    Message 1 of 3 , May 1, 2007
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      I was always impressed with the Planetes series. Had a very good
      sense of humor and really made an effort for technical plausibility.
      Also well made the point on how the social and economic situation on
      Earth cannot be ignored in the development of space. I was a bit
      disappointed with the ending of the series, though. Seemed as though
      there might have been another dozen episodes originally intended but
      cut out for some reason -probably budget. I agree with this article's
      reviewer that the female lead character was a bit annoying. The
      writers were definitely playing up anime stereotypes of Japanese
      women, though that seems to almost have been intended to create that
      much a stronger contrast to the team's female spacecraft captain who
      presents the very strong and competent figure of a seasoned astronaut
      and engineer but also a woman who has willingly traded off the
      prospect of family life for the dream of space and copes with
      disillusionment. There are surprisingly complex characters here for

      The Japanese certainly do produce a lot more SF media than the US or
      Europe, though whether it is more respected or not could be
      debatable. Certainly, the volume of material and the breadth of
      demographics the anime industry covers is vast. But this is probably
      associated more with a kind of 'long tail' phenomenon that owes its
      existence to the long acceptance of manga -comic books- as an
      entertainment medium for a very broad audience demographic. Though
      animation as an art form in Japan started as in the west under the
      province of motion picture studios, anime as a medium is a post-war
      phenomenon, derived from the manga industry in the 1960s as an
      industry more interdependent with television and publishing than film
      and with a long tradition of cross-over of talent between manga and
      anime mediums. This never happened in the west. There comics were
      pigeon-holed very early -1930s- as children's entertainment with a
      very small spectrum of allowable genres. Animation emerged within the
      confines of the film industry and likewise also pigeon-holed as
      children's entertainment. Like film, it became focused on the
      production of large numbers of 'shorts' used as filler in theaters
      and small numbers of costly lowest-common-denominator 'blockbusters'
      where pushing the edge in animation technique and effects mattered
      more than pushing the envelope in content. It took the cultural
      upheavals of the late 60s and early 70s to bring comic books to a
      western adult audience -and it struggles to stay there. Animation
      tried to follow, but never pulled it off in the west. Owing to its
      acceptance by such a broad demographic, manga paralleled literature
      in its content diversity, which then spilled over into a comparable
      diversity in anime. Everything from Hello Kitty to hard-core
      pornography. Could Walt Disney have ever imagined that? Anime has
      long been derided as 'cheap' in its production quality compared to
      western animation. But this is because the industry copes with a long
      tail market. It was more concerned with the volume and diversity of
      titles than individual blockbusters, demanding absolute production
      economy and the cultivation of a cheaper talent pool. So when it came
      to Science Fiction, anime has enjoyed the same situation that the
      golden age of SF literature in the 50s-70s enjoyed in the west as a
      result of the introduction of the perfect-bound paperback. With
      production fast and relatively cheap, anime can take risks and
      experiment in content where western animation cannot. Even the
      'blockbusters' have budgets a fraction the scale of typical animated
      films in the west. The anime market is still dominated by fantasy,
      horror, and space opera, but you get these breakthrough things like
      Wings of Oneamis, Naussica, Planetes, Akira, Ghost In The Shell,
      Steam Boy, etc. that animators in the west can only dream about -if
      they even have the imagination for it.

      We could be approaching a new revolution in SF and other media genres
      in the west with the declining costs of computer animation and video
      production tools. This could create that level of economy where a
      burgeoning in volume and diversity of media become possible. But the
      promise of a reduction in labor and talent quotient from these tools
      remains far from being realized. The effective digital actor remains
      a dream. And, frankly, the society in the west is still demonstrating
      a chronic lack of imagination.

      Eric Hunting


      > 1a. Space Anime
      > Posted by: "Robert Reed" mad_scientist2064@...
      > mad_scientist2064
      > Date: Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:22 am ((PDT))
      > Science Fiction in the US really sucks on the whole. In fact, it is a
      > barely respected genre here in the states.
      > The Japanese seem much more interested in science fiction and in space
      > in the popular culture.
      > http://carriedaway.blogs.com/carried_away/2006/09/the_japanese_lo.html
      > PlanetES is a good anime. And now, there is a new anime series
      > (called Moonlight Mile) that is based upon companies wishing to mine
      > Helium-3 from the Moon to power the Earth. Good anime, if you are
      > interested.
      > Perhaps, there should be a dedicated anime channel in the US.
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