February 21, 2010

I, for one, have never been a terribly big fan of anime. I’ve seen some shows and movies and it’s very rare when I can’t at least enjoy myself. Cowboy Bebop, Vampire Hunter D(2nd movie. Haven’t seen the original), Gundam Wing, Chobits, Princess Mononoke and the list goes on. They have all been good in their own strange way, but there is one in particular that really stands out to me: Gundam Wing.

I have heard anime fans both decry and praise it all at once and I think part of its charm for me is mostly due to nostalgia. I watched Toonami on Cartoon Network during its golden years and Gundam Wing was one of those animations. The target audience was roughly 11-15 years old and yet here was an anime that not only feature big robots, but also a little bit of edited violence (Cartoon Network would later air the show uncut at midnight) and very adult topics such as politics and war.

I own the whole series on DVD and I have watched it again. It is a thick show. Much too complex and intelligent for young teens to fully grasp and I think that’s the reason why I still like it today. Another thing that has going for it is that it had an end! I’m looking at you Dragon Ball Z. It spawned multiple spin-offs, but it actually finished the show and in 49 episodes. Not bad.

As the article by Shinobu Price said, “Animation here [in the United States] is predominantly kiddy fair.” I actually wondered if people working on Toonami who purchased the licensing fee to air Gundam Wing really thought kids were made of tougher stuff and would love it or if they merely stereotyped it as “kiddy fair.” I think that because Toonami aired it uncut later at night points to the fact that they were not oblivious to the violence and political content and even their other line-up of shows implies that Toonami was not for the little kids of 5 and 6 years old, but for teenagers who can handle a lot more: Sailor Moon, Reboot, Dragonball Z, Outlaw Star, Gundam Wing and it’s other spin-offs.

Even in the United States, private adult jokes are often sneaked into Disney animations. I have had the privilege to view most of these cartoons a second time as a college student and there are jokes in Reboot that I never picked up on when I was 11-years-old. I think animation is underrated by adults in the United States, but now that the generation that first saw these animations and played video games is growing up, the market for anime will open up a little bit more.