Most of you are like me and know what it feels to be an outcast, for sitting down after a hard day at work and turning on the television for an episode of anime. People judge you at this point, because they know that animation is for kids, and that it is a sub par medium compared to live-action. Everyone knows that the shows that air on prime time television in America are better and more adult because everyone watches them; right?
No, absolutely not. Animation unlike most prime time television shows has limitless potential. Tell me, when was the last time you ever saw a prime time television show about an adventure in a fantasy setting, or a show about a giant robot that has an even bigger drill coming out of its arm? Probably never. I’m not trying to say that these shows have to be made in America, because I know more than anyone that Americans--for some reason--hate giant robots. There is a reason why these shows are never made, and I’ll tell you that reason after the jump.
If American television could have a long running fantasy series akin to Lord of the Rings they would be all over it. So what’s holding them back? Money, money, money! Special effects cost money, fantastic scenery and locations cost money, beautiful actors cost money, and extras cost money. Why would American television companies spend ten or twenty times more money for a television show when your average police drama, or family comedy will do?
Now let me tell you what doesn’t need extra money for flashy special effects, or for fantastic scenery, or for beautiful actors; animation of course. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to show a space ship taking off through the atmosphere like you would with a live-action program; no, you just have to draw it. An animated program can have a scene in the desert, in the tundra, in the jungle, and on the moon without breaking the budget as well.
Without the ever bearing presence of a budget hanging over animation’s head, the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity. A show about enormous angels attacking humanity with giant lakes of blood? Go! A show about a tennis team that’s more like a martial arts flick rather than regular teen drama bull poop? Go! A show about a man who can see and talk to giant cute bacteria? Go! In other words: anything is possible.
This thought process obviously works in Japan, but in America, well not so much. Live-action pays more, more people watch it, more people take it seriously, and of course cartoons are made for kids. Yet this is the reason why American television has gotten stale.
Introducing an animated show to American adults at this point would be impossible, but it really shouldn’t be. Five minutes into the show most people forget that they are even watching something animated. What the industry has to do is drive the message into the publics head that animation isn’t purely for children. Stop pumping out movie after movie featuring talking animals or the occasional talking car, and start producing something that might catch an adult eye; like the recent adaptation of Beowulf for example. Then you might be able to sneak in a show or two into the prime time schedule.
All I know is that in twenty years the anime that I’m watching will most-likely be completely different than the shows that are airing today, while those people who shunned me above will be watching Everybody Loves Raymond 2.0.
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