Friday, August 23, 2013

We are Three years old! Go back to how Japanese Animation has changed my life! (Also how Precure came to my life?)

We are three years old! Wow, never expect this blog to last this long! Anyway, this year, I like to do something different. Instead of talking of what happen last year, we are going to talk about how Japanese Animation has influence my life and what are the things I experience during my early years and today.

It all started back when I was around 12 years old. My cousin bought the Dragonball Z2 NES game and I was amazed by the graphics and action. It took me a while to figure out the game play and my cousin showed me a copy of the Dragonball manga. I was hooked instantly and the rest they say is history.

But it took me a while to learn that Dragonball was just a small step to a bigger world. I was glad I lived in the early 80s and 90s as before there was Internet and Apps to read manga, there were manga rental stores. But I was too young to understand some of the contents of these mangas. (Especially those with the "Rated 18" sticker on it) So I just stick to what I know best which is Dragonball, Yuyu Hakusho and Slam Dunk. Other manga titles like City Hunter, Peacock King and Saint Seiya were good based on words of mouth but I got into these mangas when I was older and have a source of income.

Manga was one media but there is nothing beat to see your favourite characters coming to life on the big and small screen. However it wasn't easy to find anime shows and the only way you can find it is in a video rental store. So I did managed to rent some Dragonball, Guyver and even City Hunter (Yes, my first influence of City Hunter was from a video tape) But it was either dubbed in Cantonese (which is where it was from) or censored due to nudity or gore.

A few years later was the introduction of LD (Laser Disc) and VCD (Video Compact Disc) which can store more data and better quality. I watched my first Gundam series on an LD which is actually the 2nd Gundam Movie-Soldiers of Sorrow. I was blown away by the graphics despite being made in 80s. Later more titles were shown on LD and VCD and I just bought whatever titles I could get my hands on to enjoy it. Some examples will be Bubblegum Crisis (Best Soundtrack of all time!), Orange Road the First Movie (Best Ending Song) and the Grandizer/Great Mazinger/Getta Robo movie.

With the introduction of the Super Famicom (Super NES) come more Japanese anime related games like Zenki, Patlabor, Ghost Sweeper Miki. Eventually, I tried to hunt down all these shows just to see how good it is. It was a treasure hunt for me every week, going to my regular video store or manga store to find new titles.

When the advent of Internet arrived and people started posting details of certain shows, I did my research and discovered that there is a whole universe of shows out there and with the arrival of DVD, things really got heated up. I went to a shop that actually carried these shows and I was surprised by the picture quality but the amount of episodes it can hold. (Up to 9 episodes per disc!)

But then I realised that Japanese Anime has started to change their selling tactics. Although we still have our Shounen shows like Naruto, Bleach and One Piece which aired on Prime time, there was a large number of shows that are aired after midnight (Earliest is 10pm) These shows usually have mature contents and graphic senses of nudity, sex and violence. (Not that I am complaining)

One of the few shows that I remember watching was Love Hina which started a very old genre-The Harem Genre. Before that, shows like Ranma 1/2 which has one male lead and several female leads was tame but Love Hina pushed the limits of censor ships and turned it into a genre which is still ongoing today.

There is still a fanbase for Mecha shows but before that, it was either a Gundam show or a Takara/Sunrise robot shows for kids. (A good way to sell your toys on television) However Mecha shows also evolved. From the earlier days of hot blooded Mazinger Z to the more techno babble/religious theme Evangelion. From simple female leads who does nothing but yell at our male pilots to badass female pilots who can go on par with their male counterparts.

The Manga genre was always been the baseline for any adaptation to put into the big or small screen. However another form of media create a new baseline-The Light Novel genre. It has been done before in certain shows like Record of Lodess War, Slayers and Orphan. However it is until light novels like the Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi and Full Metal Panic that animation studios turned their attention to create new shows. Given that it take an average of 3 volumes to create a 13 episode series, the studios could drag the series as long as they want and create seasons after seasons just to win the fanbase and test the market.

Now, let's talk about how I get into Precure. Before that, I did grew up watching the Sailormoon series and it has some moments but overall, the story is more of a romantic series with action throw in. So in 2004, Toei decided to start afresh with Henshin Heroines genre and Futari wa Pretty Cure was born. I watched all the episodes and it was pretty dark at some time but it didn't win me over yet. Max Heart was boring even with the introduction of Hikari/Shining Luminous. Splash Star was a spin off with new characters and yes, the Kaoru and Michiru sub plot was good, overall it is more of less the same plot as Max Heart.

Then Toei decided to do something different. A five member Precure team and the moment, I saw the promo video, Sailormoon came knocking back on my head. Yes Precure Five was all right and the ending was a bit anti climax. Then Five Gogo came and it was pretty good with Milky Rose introduction. Furthermore, a five minute short film united the three series for a crossover and I thought, yeah! That was a great idea for a crossover!

But the series that make me sit down and watch every week was the next series-Fresh Precure. Maybe because they decided to make them really look like teens rather than little girls. For the first time, I love all the members of Fresh Precure unlike the other series where I only like one or two members of each series. I think many will agree with me they love the Eas/Setsuna/Cure Passion Arc and they have one of the better ending song-Happy Together which lift a smile every time I hear it.

Heartcatch Precure was awesome in terms of execution and plotline, Suite Precure was fine with the plot twist of Cure Muse but the generals are the lamest. Smile Precure was like Kamen Rider Den-O which focus more on comedy rather than main plot but it was the most funniest in the series. Doki Doki Precure was all right with some parts but we just pass the 25th episode mark so it still too early to tell.

Here are my list of my favourite things in Precure:

Favourite Team with Chemistry-Fresh Precure

Favourite Series-Heartcatch Precure and Fresh Precure (It'a tie)

Favourite Leader/Pink-Cure Peach and Cure Melody (Another tie)

Favourite Costume-Suite Precure

Favourite Special Attack-Sapphire Arrow from Cure Aqua

Favourite Team Attack-Heartcatch Orchestra from Heartcatch Precure

Favourite Final Form-Princess Form from Smile Precure (Riding a Peaguas is always Awesome!)

Favourite Fairy-Tarte

Favourite Villain Group-Desert Trio

Favourite Plot Twist-Cure Ace Arc

Today, Japanese Anime has many media to adapt from like video games, apps, toys and even music. Many series were shortlived due to poor response while a small few endured. It also showed our viewers are changing. We can endure 291 episodes of Dragonball Z as there was really nothing else to watch back then but now we can't even stand 100 filler episodes of Naruto. Some will claim it was due to the anime series is catching up with the source material. But I felt if that is the case, they should just put the series on hold for a couple of months and then continue it. Instead, it was just week after week of unnecessary episodes. (A waste of manpower and money for the studio staff and the viewers)

Japan Animation today rely on not how many episodes you have but how much merchidises and DVDs you sold. A fairly decent show could be popular due to it's storyline or characters but if the franchise is not selling, it will be quickly replaced by the next big thing which is sad that we live in such a world that popularity is based on material things and not the quality of the series.

However classic series like Dragonball and Doreamon which endured the test of time will remain in our hearts no matter how old we are. Because you can always go back and tell your kids that that was the show that change your life.

This post is based on my personal views and thoughts and not intended to offend any people, organsiations or themes. The pictures are for teaching purposes.

1 comment:

  1. Kind of late for a response since I'm just reading this now but it was a good read. I myself had gotten into anime after it started getting more mainstream. I was 4 years old when I got a Super Nintendo and had enjoyed games from a young age. It wasn't until 1998 that I started learning about anime with Pokemon, Dragon Ball, and Sailor Moon and what had followed with the whole Toonami thing. Since then though anime has been a big part of my life and continues to be so. I had started Precure a bit late when Suite was airing but have gone back and watched all but Fresh and 5/5GoGo.