|Photo Credit: Animevice.com|
Speed: So, how'd the game of drink go with your girl?
Drizzle: I won. Hardcore. And, no, it didn't involve moonshine. It involved Jack. And Jose. And the faerie made an appearance. Oh, and I claimed the booty (laughs).
Speed: Well, I'd assume. So, for part three of our series...
Drizzle: Ok....go on...
Speed: American cartoons or anime? I know, easy decision, sometimes. But, which ones wins out in a death battle? I'm not talking Superman versus Goku, because that's kind of corny and eh. I'm talking, for instance, could Iron Man legit beat Mega Man, outside of video games?
Drizzle: No. You're asking the wrong question. The question you should ask is which has better quality?
Speed: Alright. Which is of a better quality? We've got shitty-ass series in both genres. Good Lord. So...much...shit.
Drizzle: Superman versus Goku is actually a great starting example.
They both have similar origins. Stop me if you've heard this before. Alien baby sent, in a ship, to Earth and raised by elderly people who taught them the morals that they embody as heroes. Goku and Superman. But...that's where it ends.
Goku's tale is one of coming-of-age. We literally see him shortly after the death of Master Gohan, when he's about ten years old and chronicles his adventures through his ultimate death. In that time, we watch him fight baddie after baddie in, often, overreaching arcs, get and raise a family, deal with real issues like parenthood. Fuck, we watch him get his damn driver's license. And it feels natural!
Superman, on the other hand? Just goes and fights monsters of the week. Any actual character development? It's quickly retconned. In this aspect, American cartoons are just fucking lazy. Or at least...they were. You've gotta remember that, in 'Murica, cartoons were thought to be just kid's stuff. So, they made 'em to reach our short attention spands. Villain of the Week. Every now and then, they'd sneak in a big bad who has quietly been handling things behind the scenes. And sometimes, they even throw in a "totally not dead" thing where someone goes away. They hold our hands. Anime was not in such a situation.
In anime, they're like "we killing and fucking. And fuck holding your hand." Cyborg 009 even had a damn sex scene. This opened anime writers to a whole bunch of shit Americans couldn't do to project art.
Speed: However, there are villains of the week in anime. Hell, even Eva is one if you really wanna get into it. Yes, it's a mindfuck. And it's a great one. But, it's a mindfuck built around the villain of the week formula...even if it's more about the subversion of the formula. So, yeah, I'd agree that anime writers take more risks. Think of Eva as an American cartoon. It wouldn't exist. It couldn't, for the most part.
Drizzle: But then? There was an attempt. The Flinstones. A cartoon, from America, made for adults. And while it didn't kick the door down, it creaked it open. And, yeah, Eva was "villain of the week," but now? We've got legit adult animation over in America. But, while they were trying to bridge the gap, they went with something that'd already succeeded. Anime. Adult Swim jumped up because of anime.
Speed: Well, at least until Home Movies and ATHF sprung up. Also, with regards to American cartoons kicking in the door? Simpsons. 'Nuff said. Because, while you had movies such as Fritz the Cat and other counterculture productions, they were just that: counterculture. They went with the norms of "hey, cartoons are supposed to be for kids. Let's fuck with that." But, they were still very inaccessible to a mainstream audience upon their release.
Drizzle: And yeah, anime held Adult Swim until more mature shit jumped out. The point is: up until damn recently, anime wins. Just about all, if not all, of our adult [animated] content is mostly for comedy. Anime has drama.
Speed: But what about the Avatars and Legend of Korras of the American animation cycle? They blew the door open again. Kids' cartoons with tons of adult themes. People die and don't get magically reborn. Hell, Korra is alluded to be a lesbian. That's some shit that definitely wouldn't have flown back in the day.
Drizzle: We had some great shots in the dark at this sort of thing before. '90s Spider-Man was good. '90s Sonic was great...90s! Dealin' with hardcore shit.
Speed: '90s X-Men. Can't forget '90s X-Men.
Drizzle: Just the 90s. But here we are again, in 2015, with mostly comedy in terms of American cartoons. But see, now? We have something special: dramedy. Adventure Time. Regular Show. Old-school Simpsons. Archer. Rick and Morty. Now all dealing with that hardcore. And, quite frankly, it's a breath of fresh air from all the psychodrama of anime.
Speed: True. Anime does go overkill at times. Especially the space operas. That's why a Gurren Lagann gets my vote over a Space Battleship Yamato.
Drizzle: You get to laugh and have those deep moments. For instance, think Archer. Asshole extraordinaire. But...he also does this:
Speed: Yeah. Archer is a great example of where the adult American cartoon is going.
Drizzle: Anime may be winning, but we are getting better. But, there's a reason for this other than the animation age ghetto, in other words, "cartoons are for kids. Blah blah blah." The reason why we've sucked so long on this front is that we never...let...shit...END!
Television is run by corporations. So, now? We change writers, change stories, but keep characters. And when people notice the abrupt changes, we get this excuse: the character is a "symbol" who represents blah blah fucking blah. Anime has one writer from beginning to end. Period. And that motherfucker, they've got a story and they write it with very little executive meddling. And it's good because the character isn't a symbol or some bullshit. The character is an artistic expression.
Speed: Look no further than the Golden Age of Gainax. They've kind of got that whole idea on lock. Cowboy Bebop. And so on.
Drizzle: But, again. It's changing in America. Spoiler alert. Bruce Wayne is dead. Peter Parker is dead. Wally West is dead. Comics are getting the hint. And I know you're about to mention the change in Archie, Speed. But, fuck Archie. Back to Peter Parker. Black Spider-Man [Miles Morales] is going the Goku route. He's not super-overpowered. But, we're watching him grow up. His books go over a reaching arc and it's damn good. If you haven't read it, go read it.
Speed: I've been keeping up with it. That's why I'm pissed that, with the new Spider-Man reboot, we're getting another lily-white Peter Parker...and another fucking reboot.
Drizzle: It's all about the money.
Speed: Oh, I know. Still doesn't mean I want to see Peter Parker's origin for the millionth time when I can see Miles' for the first on-screen.
Drizzle: But...when we watch characters grow or learn about their pasts, we relate to them better.
Speed: Which is why anime succeeds nine times out of ten over American. So, tangent. Why has Gundam mostly failed to catch on in America, mainstream-wise? Is it the money or ignorance or--
Drizzle: Gundam jumped the shark. And in Japan, it turned into "buy the toys, Buy the toys, BUY THE TOYS!!!"
Speed: Hence why G Gundam exists. The gunpla. Yes, G Gundam is amazing. But, without the need for "buy the toys," it wouldn't exist. But, I get what you mean additionally. The Alternate Universes and whatnot tried to go all Marvel for no fucking reason.
Drizzle: Yep. Shark...jumped.
Speed: Like, remember the fake-Beyblade Gundam series, and the fake Eureka 7 one, and the fake--you see where I'm going with this. Gundam seems to be, at this point, anime's answer to The Simpsons. That and that one anime which's been out for about 60 years [Sazae-san].
Speed: Gotta buy the all!
Drizzle: Pokemon exists to sell the games.
Speed: I mean, why can't they just let the series die? Come on, a fucking ice cream cone Pokemon?
What's he gonna do? Give me brain freeze or drip me to death?!
Drizzle: Nintendo has America's problem.
Speed: Yep. We have 80 Marios, 69 Zeldas--it's dangerous to go alone--and Pokemon Snap. A game where you take pictures of fucking Meowths! Truthfully, I want a more mature Pokemon. X and Y kind of got there with the fact that the main villain, spoiler alert, decided to set off the equivalent of a nuke in a town--and you couldn't use your Pokemon powers to stop it. You had to deal with the repercussions. For about five seconds. Why? In the end, through the power of friendship and shit, the hero beats the big bad and said big bad changes his ways. But, dude! You just used a fucking nuke! Shouldn't you be a war criminal about to be executed by now?
Drizzle: Oh, yeah, and a bicycle costs $20,000. And let's look at the basis of the series: Ash's mom kicks him out of the house at age ten so he can go fucking cockfight (laughs). If you haven't check out the VG Cats subseries Super Effective. It deconstructs the Pokemon series pretty well. A war criminal. Terrorists. Child homelessness. But, y'know...Pokemon is realistic.
Speed: But everything is forgiven through the fact that the bad guy just has to go to Ash/Red/Who-the-fuck-ever and say "o hai guys! I just want to kill everything because my Growlithe from when I was a kid, he ran away." And then, Deus Ex Machina, all is forgiven and the goddamned Growlithe comes back! The bosses and gym leaders are fucking psychotic. And this is a kid's game. Fuck it, as you said. The whole concept is pretty psychotic.
Drizzle: But we accepted it, like sheep.
Speed: It's the Gundam issue, except with furry animal cockfighters.
Drizzle: Buy dem toys. But, see. Japanese people went there. Americans didn't. Just think about it: in terms of quality, anime gave us a story. Americans pandered. The only time Americans gave us a story was when they tried to sell us shit. Japan, on the other hand, got shitty stories when they tried to sell things through anime. And, back to you Avatar point. All that means is that we emulate anime.
Speed: Yep. That's the golden ticket it seems. Emulate the fuck out of anime. Either that or get Paul Dini to write on every kid's show that isn't AT or Regular Show.
Drizzle: Our population can only conceive storylines in animated series, for the most part, when it's Asian in nature. But, again. Dramedy is good. Drama can be done. Look at the 90s.
Speed: At least Japan isn't as puritanical.
Drizzle: Not true. Japan is hardcore on censorship. They just tell a story so well, you don't notice you're missing it. There's no real status quo to keep in anime.
Speed: So, I finally got to the Mummy Gundam in G Gundam.
Drizzle: It gets worse from there (laughs).
Speed: And with that, let's go ahead and wrap this one up. As always, if we didn't offend you--even just a little bit--we didn't do our jobs. Thanks for reading. Part four will be coming soon.