Editor's Notebook -- August 1996
I must admit that I have not always been a great fan of Japanese animation or anime. But like a number of other close observers of the animation industry, I could not but help admire and envy the diversity and breadth of product turned out in Japan. Like a number of my colleagues, I would use the Japanese example to berate American (and other) producers for not being able to see animation as other than as something for kids. (This has not always been the case, but this fact has seemingly vanished from Hollywood's collective memory.)
In recent years, I also could not help but notice that growing influence of anime in Hollywood and in Europe. As Jerry Beck notes in his article, "Anime: Hollywood's Invisible Animation Genre," major filmmakers, such as Bill Kroyer and Peter Chung, have increasingly expressed their admiration for the work of their Japanese colleagues and pay homage to it in such shows as Aeon Flux. Thus, despite the outward signs of resistance on the part of American producers, it has become increasingly clear that Japanese animation is on the verge of breaking into the mainstream in both the United States and Europe.
Thus, it seemed appropriate that in this issue we explore the impact anime has had outside of Japan, as well as touch on some of its history. In this, Jerry Beck's piece is an excellent polemic, as well as providing some of the background on the current renaissance of anime in the US. Fred Patten, in his "Capsule History of Anime" provides a quick tour of the anime history, detailing the major trends both in terms of genre and in terms of how different segments of the Japanese animation industry have developed.
In "Fred Ladd: An Interview," I talk with the producer who was responsible for preparing a number of early anime classics for the American market, which helped boost the Japanese animation industry and provided the basis for its widespread appeal in the United States.
The increasing success of anime in recent years has not gone entirely unnoticed by mainstream companies. Thus, Mark Segall, in his "Manga Entertainment: Taking Anime To The Next Stage," explores how the first major distributor of Japanese animation with relatively "deep pockets" is changing things on an international scale.
John Gosling, in his "Anime In Europe," explores the ways anime has been fighting its way through much of Europe, battling censors and accusations of too much sex and violence along the way. At the same time, Gosling, in "The Hidden World Of Anime," explores the various cultural influences upon Japanese animation, ranging from classic forms like kabuki to contemporary attitudes towards women.
Raoul Servais, the famed Belgium filmmaker who will be honored at this month's Hiroshima Animation Festival, is interviewed herein by Philippe Moins. In it, Servais talks about his philosophy of filmmaking, his friends in animation and his experiences in making his first feature, Taxandria.
Speaking of festivals, Mark Langer reports on the first edition of the Singapore Animation Fiesta, a vest pocket event that seems destined to be a regular biannual event.
Finally, Frankie Kowalski's Desert Island Series relates the top 10 choices of a number of anime-related personages, while John Dilworth introduces us to his "Dirdy Birdy" comic strip, which will be a regular feature.