Risky boots

This site has had a rocky relationship with anime. Once upon a time, in an era best forgotten, it played host to an entire section of anime reviews. The Thumbnail Theatres got their start as a good-natured poke at Evangelion’s excesses (not the vicious skewering that overly-sensitive fantards assume). Then something terrible happened: Anime became popular in America.

This wasn’t a turn-off in the snooty “I liked you better before you sold out” sense; rather, it was simply an unwelcome revelation. Turns out that when anime was a tiny little niche, only the best content made it stateside. But once the floodgates opened, Sturgeon’s Law kicked into effect and sorting the small amount of good content from the majority of crap became an impossible task. It even tainted all the things that had once seemed so good — all the seemingly clever ideas that set anime apart from the clichés and formulas of its American counterparts were suddenly revealed to be little more than a different culture’s clichés and formula.

Ignorance is bliss, and I’ve let myself become blissfully ignorant of the anime scene. I tried to catch up a few months ago by helping start an after-hours anime viewing group at the office, but after a few weeks I had to drop out because all the annoyances of the medium overwhelmed the good things. So I’m not really sure why I gave the GameSpite writer’s guild the go-ahead to begin writing up anime. I guess I’m just that crazy. Plus, I have their word that this stuff is pretty good.

So, we kick off with Mightyblue’s “anime worth watching” column and a look at Scrapped Princess. Which, it would seem, is indeed worth watching. He’s also put together the first edition of an anime release list counterpart for the weekly DVD and game columns, since VsRobot doesn’t really have time or space to deal with anime releases.

Brace yourself for this brave new era. It could get scary.

18 thoughts on “Risky boots

  1. I didn’t really care for Scrapped Princess (Note: I refuse to type “Scraprin” because the word sounds like a medication made out of scrap metal)and I was forced to watch most of the series while it was running because I was part of my campus’ anime club at the time. It wasn’t offensively bad, just bland with some Matrix-y elements thrown in for good (bad) measure. For me, the output of BONES is wildly uneven, with Cowboy Bebop being the obvious lightning in a bottle.

    One of the few things I remember about the series is that the main character in Scrapped Princess seems to bathe in front of the viewer often, and I distinctly recall a scene where she stopped to bathe with another woman even though her crew was in danger. That really stuck with me.

  2. I was expecting a Shantae write-up, for some reason, as I probably would have been aware it was coming. Awww.

  3. I don’t remember the bathing in the anime to be fan service at all. I don’t even rememebr any fan service. Also, in that one episode even though the viewer knew something dangerous was going to happen the other characters aren’t worried when the main character runs off. You are blowing it way out of porportion here.

  4. I remember enjoying Wings of Honneamise, but is it worth the HD upgrade? There are a few classics in my collection that can benefit from the Blu-Ray treatment — Akira, Spirited Away, Porco Rosso, Cowboy Bebop — however, I would like to know whether or not buying this will rot my nostalgia for it, much the way everything old we talk about here on this site seems to do.

  5. A Shantae write-up would be awesome. If only there were an interested party capable of creating articles for this site….

  6. I’m really enjoying all of these write-ups, and I appreciate the release lists. This site is slowly consuming more and more of my time…

  7. I agree with bobservo, Scrapped Princess is a slightly above average anime at best. It has a few good moments, but it’s filled with a grab-bag of anime cliches that makes the whole experience feel generic and largely forgettable.

    I also agree wholehearted w/parish’s comment in the actual post. back when only the best anime came over, it was almost always great. now that we get (well, get through fansubbers..) nearly everything, you realize how similar and downright crappy most of it is. still though, there are gems in the rough that are unique and good. Paprika, Dennou Coil, Moribito, and Teppa Toppa Gurren Lagan are good examples from a wide range of genres of generally solid non-generic japanese animated entertainment.

  8. And about Parish’s comment — I had the misfortune of being an anime DVD reviewer for the worst years of the anime boom (roughly 2001-2003). It wouldn’t have been so bad if companied licensed nothing but trash. The real problem was that so much stuff came over here that was OFFENSIVELY mediocre. I had to quit my job because I couldn’t take any more.

    Now, I’m a little jaded, but rightly so. I don’t see a real reason to follow more than 2-3 shows a year.

  9. I liked Scraped Princess. It wasn’t the best show I ever saw, But it was fun and it had some good voices. (I watched the dub)

  10. I don’t think I’ve seen an anime that really captivated as much as both Evangelion and Macross did all those years ago, though Escaflowne came close to it. Unfortunately I’ve been too lazy ass to see more of the series, due to me being a cheapskate that refuses to pay extra custom charges for my imported goods. Though I do occasionally enjoy watching some of the dorky cliche anime shows, like how some movie fans enjoy B-movies for their badness. I’m crazy like that. :/

  11. Any anime made after 1989 sucks. Long live Captain Future! Also Cobra, when will anime reach true awesomness again?

  12. A couple of suggestions:
    -BECK: an anime about a teenage kid coming of age and joining a band. Actually has an excellent dub.
    -Mushishi: episodic stories about “bugs” that host themselves in humans. Visually stunning.
    -The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi: this is one of those shows that you either love or hate. The plot’s a bit difficult to explain shortly, but watch the first DVD through, and see if it takes.

  13. Nah, they’ll be back eventually. They’re actually on the site but not linked. I want to finish reformatting the games section before I start pushing other media sections, though. It turns out I’ve written rather a lot over the years and making it all look consistent with the current site design is awfully time-consuming.

  14. “Turns out that when anime was a tiny little niche, only the best content made it stateside.”

    This isn’t remotely true. Back when anime was a niche in America’s big geek hierarchy, the few companies that released it padded out their catalogs with all sorts of awful stuff. Throughout the ’90s, domestic anime publishers shied away from long, expensive TV series unless they were exceptionally popular. Instead, they turned to cheaper one-shot OVA titles and movies. A few were great. Most were terrible.

    I was an impressionable youth during that decade, and my local comic store had nearly every anime release up for rental. I remember digging for things like Macross Plus and Giant Robo amid Dog Soldier, Cybernetics Guardian, Garaga, Princess Minerva, Explorer Woman Ray, M.D. Geist, Violence Jack, Dark Warrior, Lily C.A.T., Roots Search, Battle Skipper, Bounty Dog, Crystal Triangle, and far too many awful hour-long anime based on videogames. Of course, no one liked that stuff, and no one remembers it now. It’s only the quality releases that stand out in our memories.

    While the post-2000 popularity of anime resulted in countless average TV shows making it over, it also opened the door for some excellent series that would never have flown over here during the ’90s. I’m not sure if the anime market was immensely better at that point, but it certainly wasn’t any worse than it’d been as a niche.

    This was followed by the current trend of creepy, fetishy mainstream anime, but that’s another story.

  15. Well, sure, but “a lot of content both good and bad made it over but in small enough quantities that it was easier to find the good material” is less rose-tinted and more cumbersome to write, so I’m going with my concise if inaccurate statement.

  16. With the earlier manga-related posts, adding anime content seems a pretty natural evolution. I must echo the ealier sentiments though – that a Shantae entry would be sweet :)

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