26 December 2007

A Totoro

This is a Totoro. It's a forest spirit from the anime film My Neighbor Totoro; the plush toy came with my copy of the 1993 video from Fox Video. It's carrying a bag of nuts.

As anime goes, I'm mainly a fan of Rumiko Takahashi (Mermaid Forest, Urusei Yatsura, Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku, more recently Inu Yasha) and Hayao Miyazaki (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away). I saw most of those as bootleg fansubs back before anime was popular in the U.S., and I vastly prefer subtitles to dubbed versions. Back then anime was something we admired as an art form, with superior filmography and sound (Ah My Goddess! being possibly the best example of that). Then along came Sailor Moon in the mid-90s, little girls everywhere squee'd, suddenly everyone and their dog was watching it, and it all went downhill from there.


Megadeus said...

Followed quickly by Pokemon, which spawned a tween-age obsession with all things Japanese.

MWT said...

Yes. *head, desk*

Jeri said...

My older son is so anime-addicted he took Japanese in high school, wants to take it in college and feels that anything Japanese is inherently superior to anything Western.

And yes, Pokemon was his starter drug.

I think a couple of weeks in Japan, as an oversized (6'4") gaijin otaku would do him a world of good. ;)

Eric said...

You mean it's a bad thing that it's now easy to get nice DVDs at the local brick'n'mortar, via a video club like Columbia House, or thru Amazon... instead of having to settle for a 3rd-gen VHS at a con?

Sure, tweens can be annoying, and Pokémon would be completely unbearable but for the existence of Pokéthulhu. But sometimes a little popularity isn't all bad. Pokémon helps prime the American pumps for Miyazaki, and an indirect result of Miyazaki's popularity is that I actually got to see Satoshi Kon's Paprika in a real live movie theater during its first run in the U.S. That was freakin' sweet. (An anime had a first run in the U.S.?! And not just in a few big cities?! Holy crap!)

Sure, I'll roll my eyes so as not to let on--but in my heart of hearts, I'll bless those little 'tweens and their crackhead-like addiction.

Janiece Murphy said...

I'm not a big anime fan, but I do enjoy Hayao Miyazaki. I actually got to see Howl's Moving Castle in a theatre, which was very cool.

MWT said...

Well, okay, you do have a point there. It is nice that it's a lot more widely available (though often overpriced in my opinion; at least those 3rd-gen VHS tapes and bootleg downloadable fansubs were passed around for free (also last time I checked (several years ago, granted), the subbed pro-released videos cost more than the dubs o.O)).

The part that has gone downhill for me is the overall quality. Before it was all nicely filtered for the best stuff. Now people just watch absolutely everything no matter how drecklike it is.

Eric said...

Ah, but maybe you're forgetting Sturgeon's Law: wider availability means you're seeing more of that awful 90%; that's the unfortunate price for having a broader selection in the better 10%.

I agree a lot of it is overpriced. Still, I've got to go back to better access: e.g. Blue Gender was good enough to watch but not good enough to own--which is why taping episodes off Cartoon Network (back when I had cable), watching them, and taping over them was pretty ideal (and effectively free, since I was going to pay for cable regardless). And it's still possible to get some good deals on purchase-worthy DVDs via Amazon, DVD clubs, and the occasional odd sale at your local brick'n'mortar.

And (I sort of said this in my last post, but I'll say it again) there is the fact that crap can prime the pump for the good stuff. Nobody's going to force me to watch Pokémon, but the market for Pokémon fosters the market for Fullmetal Alchemist, which I quite enjoyed.* A video store shelf set aside for garbage is likely to have room for some diamonds; a movie theater that's willing to book junk is liable to book something solid by accident. Etc.

Think of it this way, maybe: manure fertilizes the best vegetables and loveliest flowers--shit nurtures things worth having.

*I'm really talking about the first season, natch.