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Sunday, November 17, 2013 

Anime may have lost some influence in USA

A writer for the Japan Times told that this year's NYCC had very little to offer from the manga/anime industry:
...gripes about skimpy anime and manga offerings this year reached me even before I received my press pass. “I’m boycotting (NYCC),” one local Asian-culture journalist and anime and manga aficionado told me. “A lot of us are. They don’t care about anime fans anymore, it’s obvious.”

Statistics bear her out. At this year’s NYCC, a mere 9 percent of the vendor booths, panels and presentations had anything to do with manga or anime, according to Tatara. And the graphic on my press pass was not a doe-eyed “Madoka” schoolgirl or swashbuckling “One Piece” pirate, or even a hard-bodied Marvel “Ironman.” It was furrow-faced Rick, the live-action lead from the U.S. TV megahit, “The Walking Dead.”

“We’ve not done the job we need to do courting (the anime industry),” admitted ReedPop’s global vice president and NYCC show manager, Lance Festerman. Festerman met me in a private office several meters above the Con’s pulsing maze of dealer booths and fans. “I think this year in particular, we’ve had kind of a dearth of anime content. I don’t think we’ve put enough emphasis on developing the relationships that are necessary to land the content that’s going to ‘wow’ things. And that’s a commitment on our part. We need to recommit to that fan base.”
Be that as it may that they weren't doing enough for anime this year, there's other reasons why it might be losing ground in the USA, and one of the paper's readers also made this argument (here's the longer text of his comment): too much violence, hentai and ecchi-laden products might have eroded the public's perception of the anime/manga medium as a whole. I've seen enough over the years to know that quite a few mangakas can go overboard out of the simple problem that they don't comprehend that what passes as de riguerre in Japan is considered offensive in western countries. When they want to, they can be quite phenomenal storytellers, and the slapstick and silly sex jokes can work quite well. But when they plunge into alarming, violent nastiness - ditto the shock tactics and poor attitudes towards women - they end up becoming incredibly destructive to themselves. They can't expect a whole western audience to be lenient on that kind of slapdash mindset for long and not think there won't be consequences sooner or later.

One plus for the anime medium is that, unlike in the USA, I've never gotten the impression they're particularly hostile to right-wing politics or Judeo-Christianity. But they've still got to move away from the shock value angles that have taken up a lot of anime and manga products as the years went by, if they want to maintain a sizable audience for what they have to offer.

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Shock value aside, I have to say that most manga/anime are refreshingly apolitical (One Piece is one of the few exceptions I can recall, ATM), which is a good reason to like them. But at the same time, yes, the violence/hentai rap caught on, as even MST3K specifically criticized those aspects in 1997. (In fiction, they may have been ahead of the curve on that.)

And in slight fairness to the hentai/ecchi stuff, at least they show some creativity. (Justified, as the Japanese collectively have no sex drive, so they got channel those urges somewhere.) Most of the American equivalent is amazingly boring and lackluster. It's why I finally gave up on Heavy Metal, as it was basically boring stories with breasts. I like the latter, yes, yet it's quasi-hopeless if the former isn't any good.

I think another reason why the lack of interest could be how Westerners are now more open to criticizing Japanese culture, particularly its racism, as done with Pokemon and Jynx. Or it's now politically correct to criticize them or place them alongside White or Europe culture as acceptable targets (part of the trade-off of being a First World nation, etc). Not to say their racism shouldn't criticized, but Japan's version gets way more flak than other countries, which are infinitely worse (Mexico, Spain). Mexico is notorious for its racism -- and way vicious than Japan's -- yet it constantly gets a pass. But then, I think -- but can't totally confirm -- people are wising up to Spain, at least partially, so it's a half-loss.

I'm not a big anime/manga fan, although I have watched a few shows here and there. Fullmetal Alchemist, Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, Digimon, Hellsing, Gatachaman, Robotech, Star Blazers, the Guyver, etc.

I usually preferred the live action kaiju movies and series myself.

And Moth: I like breasts, too, but I wouldn't read a story that was pure hentai.

Since I was really into Pokemon for a time in the late 1990s/early 2000s, I remember a few of the controversies surrounding it, such as the Porygon episode that was banned because it caused kids in Japan to have seizures and also Jynx appearing to be a blackface character. Blackface still seems to be common in Japan, as I recall a black cop in DBZ being depicted as such. Although some anime have changed it for Western adaptations, such as Jynx's color changing from black to purple.

Not condoning blackface, of course, but I would agree with you in saying that countries like Mexico (Memin Pinguin, anyone?) is worse, Moth.

Right. No one really knows what Jynx was supposed to be, as she is all over the place.

"What Jynx is based on is a controversial topic within the fandom, although common interpretations are a Nordic or a Viking woman (possibly Hel, goddess of the underworld), or ガングロ ganguro, face-black. Also, the fact that Jynx are depicted as Santa's helpers in the anime can possibly mean that Jynx is based on Zwarte Piet. Jynx also has the traits of a female opera singer, especially the iconic cartoon depiction of the fat lady; it should also be noted that in Pokémon Snap and the third generation sprites depict it singing, especially the Emerald sprite that animates it singing a high note. Jynx may also have origins in the Japanese spirits known as Yuki-onna, who lack feet, akin to Jynx's feet being covered by its dress, and Yama Uba, which is described as always wearing a tattered red kimono, having whitish-blonde hair, control over snow, dark-colored skin, and large lips, traits which are evident in Jynx.

"Its revised coloring may be based on purple discoloration of the skin, a common symptom of frostbite. This fits with Jynx's Ice type and how it is found in very cold places."


At least, Nintendo has kept her, as her game stats are good (she can't take a hit, she's fast and great with special), and the anime occasionally uses her, as well. Better than poor Porygon, as even though, it didn't cause the infamous seizures -- Pikachu did -- it got the blame, and why you'll never see it or its evolutions in the anime.

Anyway, Carole Weatherford originally raised the issue, and as far as I know, never spoke of Jynx ever again. But, either way, Nintendo took her seriously, so.


Huh. She critiqued Mr. Popo, too. At least she was consistent?

Well, I can definitely say that most anime and manga tend to avoid going political or bashing America (not all of them, though: Osamu Tesuka, for example, had a story arc of Astro Boy where the titular robot basically took the side of the North Vietnamese communists and explicitly slaughtered American bomber jets and the pilots before running out of juice, which you see here: http://apjjf.org/-Matthew-Penney/3116/article.html And Pokémon Special had Lt. Surge, the only explicit American in the Pokémon franchise [unless one counts Unova and Alola as American], being a member of Team Rocket and a villain, at least until the GSC arc (and the anime, while slightly better in that he isn't an actual villain, nonetheless made him a bit of a bully who sends his opponents to the ER and a braggart.). In fact, I think there's one manga that dealt with one of our Aircraft Carriers. Certainly, it's far less political or less likely to try and bash America than Japan's video games are (and believe me, I can name a few Japanese video game franchises that do in fact try to bash America, such as Resident Evil, Metal Gear, the game Vanquish, and Dead Rising. I think the only Japanese franchises I can think of that don't try to demonize America are Dead or Alive and to a certain extent Pokémon. Maybe Mega Man as well, I don't know.).

As far as the Jynx thing, eh, while I could see how one could assume it's blackface, I'm not sure I can say she was based on that. Same goes for Mr. Popo. Actually, to be honest, I'm actually a bit surprised she didn't bash Staff Officer Black, Android 15, or even Killa in Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z, considering those guys not only HAD the looks of blackface on them, but actually WERE supposed to be black.

And yeah, the depiction of females in some anime and manga were pretty bad. That's actually part of the reason I tried to fight to bring Misty back after she was cut loose in a rather disgraceful manner. Didn't like the kinds of depictions of women that, say, Love Hina promoted.

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