a spirited essay
I usually pimp my own writing over at Destroy All Monsters, but I also want to mention a great article by editor-in-chief Musashi examining the landmark success of the anime movie Spirited Away and what it bodes for the future of anime in the U.S.
[W]ith this victory, Japanese animation has been thrust into the limelight like never before. Indeed, shortly after the Oscar win, Disney announced that Spirited Away would return to American cinemas for a limited run, no doubt to capitalize on the film's success. But is Spirited Away ushering in a wave of appreciation in America for Japanese animation, or is it merely riding the crest of a wave built by years of smaller successes?
Anyone who's been paying attention will know that anime has been enjoying success in the United States for some time. At least four decades of American children have enjoyed Japanese animation; in the 60's it was Gigantor and Astro Boy. The 70's brought Speed Racer and Battle of the Planets (aka Gatchaman). The 80's made Robotech and Voltron household words. And finally, the 90's (and now the early 21st century) have made Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh the bane of parents all across the country.
Last Sunday's Oscar win means more than mere popularity, however. It is only in the last few years that animation as a whole has attained a degree of legitimacy among the film industry, as can be seen by the relatively new Academy Award category for Animated films, which is only in its second year. This acclaim is somewhat problematic, however. One look at the films nominated in the 'Best Animated Film' category will reveal the film industry's tried-and-true bias towards 'kid-friendly' animated fare.
...While I would like to hail the success of Spirited Away as a watershed in anime history (and make no mistake, it is a significant achievement), I believe that anime has a long way to go before it achieves the same kind of mainstream acceptance in the U.S. as it enjoys at home, and to be honest, it probably never will reach that plateau.
(continued in the next post)