American Anime, Can it Exist?

I had a friend recently post this article up to my Facebook timeline. While it is questions submitted by readers, it is only the first question I was directed to by said friend. The article comes from io9.

If you want the cliff notes version of the article, the viewer is curious if there is a business model or alternative business model for America to make anime. First, let’s clarify a few terms, at least for this entry, since many people tend to like classifications and labels to group things. I mean, look at the debates over what people classify as manga vs comics and some people believe the country of origin plays a role in these classifications, such as the great Original English Language (OEL) manga vs manga from Japan or Korea, etc.

Anime, in it’s traditional sense, is used to describe animation from Japan whether it is a full length film or a televisions series. However, I would argue that the term “anime” will be going through the same thing as manga does in the near future. I envision this due to the growing amount of artists that were inspired by anime and are taking on the world of animation. For instance, the web show called RWBY with heavy anime influences and the rise of “fanime” series and projects on Youtube, which are combined of the words “fan” and “anime”.

Let’s tackle the first model, which is the traditional route of a manga series being turned into an animated series. In a sense, this already exists in the US. We have animated shows like Batman, Superman and the Ninja Turtles, all based on comics. While they don’t follow the story lines note for note, these shows are probably the closest thing to that model in the US. With the slow death of comics, we have seen an influx of spin-offs from Pixar and Dreamworks films for animated shows, such as Kung Fu Panda. Now one could argue, that these are more children’s cartoons than anime, which kinda carries the more mature label of animated content. Could we classify shows such as Archer or the Simpsons as anime? I personally tend not to. Some people classify shows based on art styles and some on content. For instance, some would classify Archer or the Simpsons as cartoons since they are animated and others would classify cartoons as content geared towards a younger demographic. So with the terms being used, we will be flexible and look at the greater picture.

The article is called “Why America Will Never Truly Be Able to Make Its Own Anime” and that may be true to a sense. Anime in Japan gets made to promote manga, video games or a toy line. So if an American company were going to make an anime title but based it’s premise off of a Japanese manga, it would miss out on some potential marketing goodies. As the response to question states, if a series is doing well, a Japanese studio will license it, American studios wouldn’t get a chance.

America also doesn’t have the proper infrastructure to have a successful anime series take root. The show would essentially have one outlet, the late night block on Cartoon Network to reach the masses of cable viewers. SyFy no longer has a late night block in any form of anime to my knowledge and hasn’t had one for several years to my knowledge.

This all sounds kind of pessimistic, so what exactly am I saying?

In the US, people are increasingly cutting the cord to cable, thus making an American anime series primed for another platform, such as; Netflix, Amazon or some other player not in the market yet. As a culture, we are in a period of transition. One from the old ways of watching cable, to a new way people consume media that has not yet been directly defined. Once a show gains a level of success, it can then expand outside of the US. For instance, Roosterteeth recently announced that RWBY was going to be aired in Japan. You can read the article on adweek.

While I am not a businessman by any means, going this route may be a more profitable route. You wouldn’t have to pay to license a manga, and you could make money off of the licensing of the new Intellectual Property (IP), I believe.

So while anime is not the hot ticket item it was a decade or so ago, there is still room for an American series to make money in the space. I believe that we will see a successful title like that in the future and maybe develop it’s own niche as well. In my opinion American anime can exist, otherwise I wouldn’t be working on Cosmic Rage. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Recent Viewing: The Thieves

I recently watched the second highest crossing tim in South Korean history, The Thieves, which was released in 2012. In the U.S.A. the film is owned by WellGo I have recently been on an asian film spree and have been pleased with some of the titles I have seen. Check out the trailer below for a look at the film.


Synopsis-The film starts with a group of Korean burglars, executing an art heist. A young woman named Yanicall is introducing a young rich tycoon to her fellow thief acting as her mother, by the nickname of Chewing Gum. While the fake mother distracts the young man, Yanicall is able to spring into action and steal an expensive piece of Chinese art. She is able to complete the heist throughout he help of Popie and Zampano. After the heist they are visited by the police and decide that they must leave South Korea for a bit. The group teams up with a group of Chinese thieves and plan on one last group heist. The heist will involve a piece of jewelry that they can sell for $20 million.

Everyone in the group starts to reveal their own agendas and plans to do with the money from the heist. It’s every thief for them-self as the plan starts to fall apart.

Review- The Thieves has a nice mix of action and comedy. There are certain characters that have the comedic relief role and play into those roles well. The film has a nice pacing to it and doesn’t seem to bog down in areas like some films tend to do, I think the comedy aspect helps in times with this. Since the film is an action movie at it’s core, there are several amazing stunts that are well shot.

The two gangs of thieves have an interesting chemistry together that adds an interesting dynamic to the thief/big heist films genre. It’s almost as if they took the buddy cop film and turned it into a buddy gang film. The true value of the story is the depth of the overall story.

On the surface it is a heist movie, but each character has their own backstory and motivation which is the added value. Throughout the film some of the characters will drop hints of their motives, requiring the viewer to choose which thief they are pulling for.

If you are a fan of action films, make sure to check out The Thieves on Netflix.

Dub Quality- Subbed on Netflix.