I was actually half done with my professional brief which happened to center around Canada and a new problem that they’re having with their own media. It seems that the giant broadcast companies, such as Canada TV and CBC are having difficulty finding the funds to produce local programming and are pushing the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (from here on out known as the CRTC) to tax the Canadian citizens an extra $10 a month on their cable and satellite subscriptions (thestar, LaSalle).

That is a pretty hefty fee and there are actually a number of comments on that article say, to paraphrase, “Let them fail! I didn’t watch local TV anyway.”

Poor Canada has always struggled against the United States, against its more powerful signals – at least in the early days – and, unfortunately, far more well-funded media. That is not to say, however, that it has not had its successes. Maybe the television just is not their arena although they did produce Degrassi and, most particularly, Reboot.

I mentioned Reboot in my Japanimation post. It was on Toonami with the rest of the animes, but it most certainly did not qualify as an anime considering it was the first fully 3D-animated cartoon produced and it was absolutely amazing (Reboot Homepage). This show is for pop culture and computer geeks:

I think every single episode is available on Youtube. The whole show ended sometime in the early 2000s on the most dreadful cliffhanger because whoever bought the license to it screw up its showing to American audiences, much the same way Fox pulled the rug out from under Arrested Development!

However, what Canada seems to be dominating most in the world right now: video games!

Two of the most critically acclaimed video games that have actually be released within the last five months came from Canada.

Ubisoft. I had long known they were a french company, but I had no idea that their main office is based in Montreal, Quebec! Their newest franchise just got a recent installment in Assassin’s Creed II. Shadow of the Colossus is my favorite game of all time for its utter craft and exhilaration, but Assassin’s Creed II is by far the funnest game I have ever played!

The first Assassin’s Creed was merely a really good game. It was fun, but it had its faults in story and gameplay elements, based in roughly Medieval Middle East. It also carried its usual high standard in graphics, particularly with digital cloth. This time the story went to Renaissance Italy (sorta, not really, anyone who plays the game knows what I mean) and as evidenced by the video above, their graphics are of the usual high standard. Excellent game.

Another great game company that happens to be in Canada is that of Bioware. Their newest game is Mass Effect 2, which was released just two weeks ago. I do not own it – still have to play the dozen other games I already have – but from word-of-mouth it is apparently much, much better than its predecessor and might be in contention with Assassin’s Creed II for game of the year.

So, while Canada is unfortunately suffering in their local television programming, they are steamrolling the rest of the video game industry with quality games such as these two above.
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References:
LaSalle, LuAnn. “CRTC wants to hear from Canadians on so-called TV tax.” thestar.com (2009): n. pag. Web. 7 Mar 2010. .
http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~ifex534/main.html

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Japanimation

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.