It was certainly a mistake to arrive at Anime Boston the day of the event, as opposed to coming the night before. Sure, we saved a night's lodging expenses, but I'm not quite sure that it was worth spending four hours in line, waiting for our precious badges. I'm still relatively new to the convention way of doing things, but I couldn't help but wish they had simply mailed these out in advance to those who preregistered. As such, my group and I ended up missing most of the day's festivities.
One panel that I did manage to attend before the day wound down was entitled "Anime in Black and White." Hosted by Mike Toole, formerly of AnimeJump.com, the panel attempted to provide an overview of the beginning of the anime industry, starting with Japan's first anime, Astro Boy. While not Japan's first ever animated production, Astro Boy is widely credited for creating the medium's standard conventions, including anime's famous "big eyes." Anyone who considers themselves a fan of anime is probably aware of how important the series was for the evolution of the medium.
What might not be apparent is that the norm for anime openings was set not by Astro Boy's Japanese intro, but its American intro. Toole described how Osamu Tezuka was so impressed by America's opening of singing children, he quickly abandoned Japan's orchestral opening in favor of a Japanese adaptation. It's interesting to realize that a such a distinctive standard of early anime was actually created by Americans. Inversely, the first animation created by Japan specifically for American audiences was a new opening for 8th Man, despite the introduction featuring monsters and an American man with superpowers which never appear in the actual show.
The rest of the the panel discussed the few black and white anime produced between their span of 1963 and 1968. With the exception of Gigantor and the incredibly-racist Ken the Wolf Boy, most of the remaining anime of this time period were heavily focused on imitating and following the formula of Astro Boy. Some merely aped the recipe, improving the cinematic quality and themes of boyhood exploration, such as Prince Planet. The last black and white anime, Cyborg 009, was the culmination of these themes, eventually becoming popular enough to spawn a remake in recent years. Others like Super Ace, an anime about a robot space-faring boy, were blatant rip-offs. It's somehow comforting to know that, even though the anime industry didn't officially exist in the 60s, it still had the same trend of continually copying whatever was popular at the moment.
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