Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sci-Fi Channel Saturday Anime

Now, while I began my life in the 1980s, my childhood trailed into the 1990s as well. This was cool in a way, as it meant I got to enjoy some of the best animation ever as it came out with the eyes of a child, truly ready to bask in its wonder. And it also means I got to watch the slow ascension of anime into American pop culture. It's not like there weren't already notable examples of it existing here already, as the 80s were full of anime that people weren't aware was anime at the time. Japanese animation was just animation to pretty much everyone here and no one really saw much difference.

Although, the fact that so many American cartoons were actually made in Japan might've been a factor too.

The first time I remember really being told the difference was via a very cool older kid I met on a summer trip to Miami. It wasn't too long after he opened my eyes to the fact that shows like Voltron, Robotech, Macron 1, and the like were actually anime that I soon noticed commercials advertising anime club order services that delivered new VHS tapes of anime to your house every month and then, Sci-Fi Channel announced their first yearly Anime Festival. Basically, it was a week of different anime "films". Now, the quotations are there because not everything shown was actually a stand-alone film. They snuck things like the first few episodes of Record of Lodoss War in there, complied into what felt like a film. It was eye-opening in a big way.

Also, it was basically nothing like what people usually think of when they think of anime.
It hit before the anime boom really blew wide and it definitely highlighted how niche the market really was at that time. It focused mostly on the much more intense and more adult offerings. Science fiction, horror, high fantasy, ninjas cutting each other in half, it was intense and the only time it involved schoolgirls was when one of them was blowing up and smashing tanks and spaceships to save her best friend.

Natural redheads in Japan probably means they're superhuman, I've learned.
Whenever discussions of anime or Japanese animation come up, people always have these ideas about what that is. They think characters with big eyes, high pitched voices, sailor outfits, magical schoolgirls, or young ninjas who say "BELIEVE IT" a lot are the norm. The truth is, anime is broad and different, just like animation in general. Trying to say something is done in an "anime style" is ridiculous because there is no one style. It was a lesson I learned as a child watching Sci-Fi Channel on those yearly week long celebrations. But the lesson was reinforced even harder when they began a new thing: anime on Saturdays.

I don't know...the name seems a bit on the nose.
This was where shit got real. A weekly dose of animated goodness straight into your eyeholes. It was even cleverly scheduled later so Saturday morning cartoons were over, meaning that I could watch both. Sure, that was likely more so because they knew the parents could then take the television for their own viewing pleasure, what with cartoons being done and kids undoubtedly going to do whatever else they did, but not me. I was there, glued to the set and eating it all up hungrily. Remember my review of Lily C.A.T.? Yeah, I discovered that movie via Sci-Fi Channel.

Which, as an fan of the Alien franchise, I adored.
It taught me about concepts like Casshern, the Japanese superhero who battled robots, and showed me that Leiji Matsumoto's work went much further than the Captain Harlock dubbed VHS tapes I saw when I was young. I learned so much appreciation for animation as an artform thanks to Sci-Fi Channel's Saturday Anime because it gave me a window to so many different styles and stories. From police driving around in tanks to epic space operas on Mars, it was a great primer for anime as a whole. Today I look at animation with a lot of love and I firmly give much of the credit to the channel that took a chance and dipped into something that wasn't mainstream. They were willing take chances and it really stuck with me. Who they are today...yeah, not really a big fan...but who they were will always be looked back on fondly. Especially every Saturday when I stick in an anime film and let the old joy settle in. Honestly, what else is there to say beyond that? Except for that I hope you all go look it all up and get curious enough to try something new. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results. Later days, bleeders.

It's definitely a lot better than the shit they show now.

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