My thoughts on Anime

Anime has been around a while now in the United States. When I first got interested in  in (back int he late 80’s it was expensive and called ‘Japanimation’. As the years rolled on it became more popular and slightly less expensive. I have tried all kinds of anime but usually the stories are too incoherent at times or the subject uninteresting.      I prefer dubbed anime as opposed to subtitled. I used to think otherwise so I too could be ‘Anime snob’ but then I realized that I was missing a whole lot staring at the bottom of the screen trying to read the subtitles. Sure, some dubbing is done badly, but I prefer that to missing some great animation. Here are some different anime titles I have opinions on….  

Robotech        This is my number one favorite ‘Anime’ although it really isn’t considered Anime. It was a Japanese show (three of them to be exact) but it was brought to the US and re-cut, re-wrote, and repackaged.        Robotech was on TV in the mid 80’s but it really wasn’t until I was a freshman in High school that I got into it. I think what initially happened was that my best friend in High school (Eric) got ahold of the RPG book and I think we launched from there.

     Over the next several years it was a search for anything I could lay my hands on. Robotech’s hey-day had passed and there was little new product coming out. I scoped out my local comic book shops (Heroes Workshop off West Berry and Lone Star Comics near Hulen) but didn’t find too much in thoes early days. I remember that Heroes Workshop had a big cardboard SDF-1 and I was always amazed by it (and I am still looking for one after all these years). I did find some issues of the Canadian Robotech Fanzine Protoculture Addicts and ate them up. You can read about it in a blog I did last year.

     I got all the RPG books I could afford and the novelizations as well. When money permitted I would go wild at one of Lone Star’s sales and stock up on back issues of the comics. Most were good but there were some strange ones too. Me and Eric and some of his friends would play the RPG. This was great fun but for some reason I was almost always the GM. Once I found 2 Peter Pan – Robotech Cassette with book sets at Pic-N-Save (which is now Big Lots). I loved those pieces of shit! They were so patched together and the narrator would constantly get the names wrong and when he read it was like he was reading the story for the first time (he would get inflections all wrong). None of it matter because it was Robotech and I enjoyed them thoroughly.

     Through those first few years I got ahold of the F.H.E. version of Robotech. It had six VHS tapes with six episodes mercilessly editing together. They would only show one opening and closing credits and slap six episodes all together (cutting out quite a bit as I later found out). F.H.E. also released a couple of other versions of the series (with fewer episodes on each tape) but it appears my set was the last VHS set they produced. I would take a tape deck and record audio snippets off the show and make a ‘mix tape’ of audio sound bites. Years later I got the F.H.E. laser disc versions of the series and it was a totally different experience. The episodes were complete and there were scenes that I had never seen before. I gripe about those crappy VHS versions but they did offer some fun years later with the missing scenes I got to see off the laser discs.

     Through all this I got on this kick to get Robotech Perfect Collection CD (or record it didn’t matter to me). I contacted the company only to find out that it was out of print. These were the days before eBay so I was SOL. One day I was browsing something (online or in a magazine, I can’t remember) and I ran across something that showed that a new soundtrack called Robotech: Perfect Soundtrack was about to be released… in less and a week! I was so excited. I got my order in ASAP but the production was delayed until early 97 and once I did get it I see why it was delayed. It had 2 discs and they were marked wrong. Disc 1 was Disc 2, etc… It still didn’t detract from my utter delight. I got to enjoy songs I had never heard before including the ones I simply didn’t remember from the Robotech The Movie soundtrack. As it turns out it wasn’t ‘perfect’ there was another set that came less than 10 years later with even more.

     In 1999 I built a website called I already had a page about Robotech on my webpage so I moved it to the new and added more stuff to it. Robocon was the 10th anniversary of Robotech convention that took place in 1995. It focused on my take on Robotech as well as the voice actors that had attended the convention and so on. I had a couple of phone conversations with Tom Bateman (the organizer and protoge’ of Carl Macek. He got me some info and gave me blessings to use it all on the site. He had been planning a Robocon 15 in 2000 but it fell through. In 200? He contacted me again (along with Tommy Yune I believe) about giving to (the official portal for Robotech). so they could use it for the upcoming Robocon 20. I agreed and they supped up my site and integrated it into their own. I still have my site archived here. You can compare the changes they made to it here (their official version). I found it funny that they kept the front page (the one with animation that says: ‘Welcome to the Future of the Human Race’ from my old site. I basically took that from my existing Front Mission fan site cause it sounded cool (I just changed ‘Future of Warfare’ to Future of the Human Race’). I also find it cool that the site is still up and intact after all these years.

Macross Plus      This is my second favorite anime (first being Robotech, duh!). Macross Plus follows the original Macross series (which makes up part of Robotech). It takes place 80 years in the future and the galaxy is at peace for the most part. The story revolves about 3 people in a love triangle and a meddling computer AI program. It was a 4 episode OAV (Original Animation Video) which means it was straight to video. The animation is high quality as well as the soundtrack and even some early CG (back before it was used in every damn Anime). Macross Plus is the first Anime to evoke an immediate emotional response. I watched the concert scene from Episode 2 with a surround sound system and it was actually thrilling. The final battle in Episode 4 was also exciting and visually interesting. This show proves that dubbed animation can be just as good as subtitled animation.  

Dragon Ball Z      Dragon Ball Z (which I am sure you all know of by now) didn’t start showing up here on US shores until the 2000’s. It was a Manga (Japanese comic) that started back in the 80’s and was based on the Chinese novel ‘Journey to the West’. It is basically martial arts on crack with some aliens thrown in. The action is so fast it literally becomes a blur at times. When it first started airing here on Saturday mornings I (working as a security guard at the time) would go up to one of the offices that had a TV and haul it out and watch it. The only thing that annoyed me was all the time spent on the show ‘powering up’. The characters would just stand there (or float there) and power up (while talking or grunting the entire time). The actual fighting was short and fast then back to the powering up. Apparently there is a much shorter version (with a lot of junk cut out) called Dragon Ball Kai although I never watched it. There were several sequels and 17 movies. One day if they ever release a definitive version I might buy it and watch it all. It has some interesting themes.  

Evangelion      This Anime is a strange creature. You are not sure if you should be laughing, scared, worried, sorry, or what. It is about aliens coming to Earth and human-controlled aliens defending humanity. The writer of the series was known for being ‘strange’ and it shows. The animation is nice and the action is cool. The seemingly mundane lives of the central characters offsets the craziness of the alien attacks. The final episodes are so inexplicable that there have been movies (see below) to try to re-write or re-explain what the hell happened. Even to this day I am not sure how it ended.  

The End Of Evangelion      O.K….. this is supposed the replace the final 2 episodes of the series to help tie up all the loose ends and explain things better….. uh…. NOT! Yes it is wonderful to see more Eva action, but it didn’t do all that much to help me understand what happened. To cap it all off it ends on an even more STRANGE note than the series!   

Ninja Scroll      This was one of the first modern day anime shows I saw. Modern day I mean after 1990. I was really impressed with it. The animation is crisp and well drawn. The action is super violent and fast paced but happens in short bursts with long segments of quiet. Hey, don’t bother with that rip-off “sequel” Ninja Resurrection. Its not the same company.  

Patlabor The Movie      The first time I watched it I got bored. I really wasn’t paying attention and the great story passed me up. After watching again I caught on. I really enjoy the slow pace of the Japanese culture (of the future) portrayed. It combines the mundane with the fanstastic.  

Ghost in the Shell      I’ve seen this enough times now to give an opinion on it. It is O.K. That’s all….. Excellent animation, but the story line just didn’t stick with me. Neat and high-tech, just not as interesting as I was expecting. I finally read the manga and noticed that the story line was changed quite a bit for the Anime. The Anime is a little too serious and tries to take itself that way but it comes across as self important (but with little substance).  

The Hakkeden      This is pretty interesting series. The animation changes at certain times during the episodes. It becomes very crude from time to time, mostly during the action scenes. I think that it’s just some stylistic thing goin’ on there as opposed to the animators getting sloppy. Other than those times, the animation is beautiful. It’s based on Chinese legend and revolves around several characters so you have to pay attention to keep up.  

Ki Ki’s delivery Service      O.K. so I’m a little old to be watching this move, but it’s wonderful. The animation and look of the movie are great. This is a very nice family movie and an anime masterpiece. The visuals are enchanting, the animation is at 32 frames a second which is not typical of Japanese Animation. This is one of many Miyazaki’s movies that Disney got ahold of when they joined forces with Studio Ghibli. My Neighbor Totoro      Another Miyazaki movie that Disney got is also enchanting. It (like all the Miyzaki movies with the exception of Princess Mononoke) has this relaxed, comfortable feeling that really makes viewing them so enjoyable. This is definitely a children’s movie but adult fans will enjoy it just the same (possibly more). Ponyo      I’m sure you have noticed by now that I have put all the Miyazaki/Disney movies under one group. Ponyo is the strange tale of a fish who becomes a little girl. It is strange but like all these movies it is beautiful and the story is like seeing the world through the eyes of a child. Ham! Howl’s Moving Castle      Another great Miyazaki movie brought to the US by Disney. Disney (for everything negative people say about them) really did good by getting these movies and bringing them to the US. They really treated the material with respect and have done a great job dubbing them. All these movies have fairly big name actors doing the voices of the characters.   Princess Mononoke      This is another beautifully animated feature for a little bit older crowd than he is used to making movies for. It’s steeped in Japanese legend and has some truly strange things in it. It’s got a first class voice cast and some super high quality animation. Check it out!  

Wings of Honnieomise      I enjoyed this movie right away. It had a very different premise than most Anime. It is an alternate version of Earth and mankind’s attempt to reach space. It kept my attention the whole time even though it moves at a snails pace. Its pacing is like Patlabor the Movie.