Anime Theatrical Features
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This also may change with the growth in popularity of anime for older viewers in America. The Japanese animation industry is eager to sell more of its product to America. Take for example the 1996 teen girls' romance TV series The Vision of Escaflowne, a 26-episode serial about a high school girl who is transported to a fantasy world. Escaflowne's continuing popularity with teens in both Japan and the U.S. through video sales has resulted this year in both an American TV release (Fox Kids Network, premiering in August) and a Japanese theatrical feature, Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea (June release). This movie was also rushed to America for a preview at the Anime Expo 2000 fan convention (10,000 attendance) in Anaheim, California over the July 4th weekend, to help build a popular demand for an American theatrical rather than direct-to-video release. The above-mentioned new Vampire Hunter D feature in production was also promoted at Anime Expo 2000 with a theatrical trailer.

Check out an ultra-cool clip from Vampire Hunter D 2000. © Hideyuki Kikuchi/Asahi Sonorama/Vampire Hunter D Production Committee.

Another evolutionary development is the increase in international co-productions. The U.S.-Japanese-Korean Alexander is designed to be shown as either a TV series or theatrical feature. Its current theatrical release in Japan may help with its sale in America. A Final Fantasy theatrical feature, loosely based upon the Japanese video game series, is currently being publicized in both nations as an expected Japanese summer 2001 theatrical hit. This CGI science-fiction drama is being promoted heavily over the Internet with downloadable trailers and graphics, to excite America's action-adventure movie fans. Final Fantasy is a Japanese production being filmed at a studio located in Honolulu, with dialogue being recorded in Los Angeles for release in both countries. This could be the movie that will take Japanese theatrical animation from the art-theater circuit into American general theatrical releases.

If you are having trouble watching the Vampire Hunter D 2000 clip download the latest version of QuickTime now.

For more articles on Japan and anime, go to Animation World Magazine's archives and type in these keywords: Japan; anime.

Fred Patten has written on anime for fan and professional magazines since the late 1970s.


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