Yeah, it's been that way for a while.
Where did it all begin?
No one cares.
Okay, some people care. A lot. A hell of lot. An unhealthy hell of a lot. To them something that really shouldn't matter. Matters.
A very brief history of Anime...
I'm not going into the actual history of wherever it came from because I'd be trying to find Japanese cave paintings on the internet and fuck that.
I SAID, FUCK THAT!
The first Anime to arrive here was something called Astro Boy. It featured a doe-eyed prepubescent robot boy is disturbingly short pants.
Yeah...this could never lead to anything bad
Next came Kimba the White Lion, which Disney banished from existence for some unknown reason.
Astro Boy and Kimba were featured prominently in UHF markets that were never anywhere that I lived, so moving right along.
The first Anime series that I did see was Speed Racer. While it was cheaply made and incredibly silly, it did break the ground on something it would share with all of the other Japanimation shows that would come after it. If my parents had known what I was watching they would have burned our TV set.
The vehicular carnage was relentless and started during the credits then continued for the next half hour. Over the course of three years, Speed would engage with, do battle and triumph over every possible form of evil. Mostly by running it off the road and then setting it on fire.
I loved it.
I made fun of the Mach 5...I guess I deserved this
Speed was it for while until something very unexpected happened in 1977. Science Fiction became popular. Or rather when Star Wars blew the doors off so hard that there wasn't even a door frame left behind, distrubuters realized that this new generation of kids loved SF in a way that would be very, very profitable.
The market was suddenly ravenous for anything space opera related and Japan as it turned out had plenty in storage. However these shows came with a few problems attached.
These shows weren't meant for children. You have to understand that in America at that time ALL animation was meant for little kids. It was unthinkable that there be an adult market for it.
Of course we weren't adults yet but these shows tried to get us there fast.
A hilariously mild hint of things to come
and yes this was from the actual series
Star Blazers was blowy uppie but really no worse than Speed Racer in a lot of ways. A few scenes with Nova had to be trimmed. As well as the moment that Knox heroically frags himself to save the day. In Japan he died but in America, "he got out in time." (*Little Cataline knew he was being lied to*) But on the whole these things didn't really effect the tone or the plot. Yamato had a fairly impressive story. The design work was good for it's time and animation was pretty cheap and terrible. The American distribution company that dubbed it was on the cheap too and used the same actors for several parts. An effort to make the hero sound different from the villain resulted in the most fundamentally fabulous villain in all of 1970s animation.
Battle of the Planets on the other hand had nothing to do with the original series what so ever.
Heil Star Wars Font!!
In America Battle of the Planets was about a team of superfriends who traveled the galaxy battling the same source of incompetent evil every week and telling each other how great they were.
In the Land of the Rising Sun, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman was a superhero-spy show that took place on Earth. Yep, there was only one planet and this was it. The show was kind of serious, the good guys didn't always win. Or for that matter get along with each other.
Not that we would ever find out about that. If there was a scene where Jason and Mark were beating the unholy fucking fuck out of each other over Swan-Girl-Bridge-Bunny...
Meet the Jar-Jar of 1970s Anime
...explaining to us that nothing bad had happened. Little Cataline knew damn good and well that this horrible blinking suppository in a cape did not belong in the show. Seven Zark Seven was this shitty little tacked on thing that was supposed to provide exposition on where in "Space" this weeks story was going to take place. When he wasn't lying to us about that, he was telling us that nobody had been hurt in the episode we just watched, no matter how many people had been beaten up, shot up or blown up. Seventies Anime was cheap but it was nowhere near as cheap as American Saturday morning cartoons, which this repulsive little turd clearly was.
Starblazers had some fundamental respect for the source material. Battle for the Planets clearly held both the original show and it's own audience in utter contempt.
These two shows were it for a while because there was one ironclad rule of TV show syndication in those days. There had to be a minimum of seventy two episodes. If there was less than that the show didn't get distributed unless it was currently in production. Which is why you only got to see Space 1999 for two years but saw Star Trek forever.
Okay stupid rules are still rules. Space Cruiser Yamato and Science Ninja Team Gatchaman easily qualified. But there were other better shows that couldn't.
However it turned out that there was a way around this problem. Which we will explore in the next episode; Anime is Great...Its the Fans that Suck: The 80s & 90s