Saturday, March 18, 2017

Anime is Great...It's the Fans that Suck: the 80s.




Here is the briefest of recaps from our last episode

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 sixty five 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 for-ev-er.

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.

One of my commentors made the following (not too bad guess): 

The Dark Shadows solution: spend five minutes recapping/retconning yesterday's episode, fifteen minutes bickering between family members, five minutes plot advancement to a cliffhanger. Preferably one with a shocked Barnabas, mouth agape.

Shounen solution: give the hero two new powers. First and most important (to series length) is the "Internal Battle Commentator of Time Freeze". Every slight movement on the villain's part must be analyzed in detail and interpreted as an unbeatable strategy. All hope is lost! (for bonus points, arbitrarily assign a number as the strategy's strength) The second power, revealed twenty episodes into the fight, is the Deus Ex Machina that suddenly turns the tide, leading to the hero's victory (another twenty episodes later).


As I said, not a bad guess but in this case it was wrong.  There was as it turned out an even simpler solution.  

In the alien world of Los Angles you have to present a cover photo if you want to get a job as dental receptionist.  The Industry permeates every facet of life.  It's impossibly hard to get into the film business, yet it is conversely easy to get sucked in.  Of course it doesn't make sense, we are talking Hollywood here.  It so happened that a real estate company founded by an Egyptian called Harmony Gold suddenly found itself in the Japanese Cartoon business.  A lot of that business depends on personal connections and if you happen to know a buyer, it's easy to become seller...or at least a middle man.  Frank Agrama got around enough that his connections made selling anime doable.  


And he had a great show that he could sell.  Super Dimension Fortress Macross.  The original company had gone to lot of trouble with this one.  The animation was a lot better than earlier shows, the storyline was more complex.   The problem as previously mentioned was the sixty five episode rule.  Super Dimension Fortress Macross had only 23 episodes.  With all the padding in the in the world the series couldn't be stretched to three times it's length.  So the guy that Agrama hired to script and record the English dub, Carl Macek, came up with novel solution to the problem.  He bought up two other anime series, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA.  





Using some clever scripting editing, Macek created the massive Robotech saga that spanned three generations.  And the amazing thing is that it actually hung together.  I for one certainly bought into it hook, line and sinker.  I didn't find out that it was three separate shows until I was stationed in Japan.  I nearly concussed myself with forehead slapping, it was so obvious in retrospect. 

The same trick was used for Voltron...but I never watched that one so I can't tell you if that one worked as well or not.

Robotech still has a strong brand to this day.  The same, sadly, cannot be said for the man who made it what it is.  Carl Macek pretty much took the Japanese Cartoons out of Anime and introduced America to the grown up art form we know today.  

Since I'm done for tonight due to last night.  We will pick this one back up in our next episode Anime is Great...It's the Fans that Suck: the 90s.



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