Sunday, June 20, 2010

Reviving Interest in Gatchaman

Spotted at the June 19, 2010 Hey, Answerman! column on the Anime News Network site:

Fans of old stuff! I'm sure there's a particular old series/movie/whatever that you really love, that the new crop of fans is completely uninterested in. Why is this, do you think? What steps would you take to reverse that?

To which writer JR Turbyfill replied:

I grew up at a time when Anime was not really even called anime and came on either in the afternoons during the week, or early Saturday morning. I remember watching Battle of the Planets (Gatchaman) and Starblazers (Space Battleship Yamato)... Today, with the advent of YouTube, Crunchyroll, Hulu, etc., we now have the ability to watch the iconic stories that really paved the way for anime to be the popular niche entertainment that has inspired a now growing trend of properties in Hollywood, for better or worse. Sadly, these classic stories that I loved were bittersweet to watch again. Alas, even though I watch them as I am being scorned by the new generation of fans, some who are almost young enough to be my children, I begin to understand why "my anime" is different than "their anime."

I would say the chief reason the younger / newer fans do not find enjoyment in the shows that made it possible for their shows to be presented as anything more than an import / rarity is the evolution of anime as a medium in general. All the shows I enjoyed as a child were pretty much a Hero, Space epic, or Giant Robot / Mecha show. This is only a fraction of the broad spectrum of anime that permeates through society today. [...]

So, how do we get the new school to "give props" to the old school? That's tricky, especially in this volatile time in the industry. There have been several attempts, such as the new Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles or the 3-part modernized OVA of Gatchaman, but these received a lukewarm response outside of their fanbase. Though Gatchaman is / was to be a CG feature, Astro Boy showed that without a major marketing push and great story to back it, the property will die, screaming. There is a possibility of driving interest by doing a live action re-boot, ala JJ Abrams' Star Trek or Nolan's Batman Begins. The trick with this being successful would be a HUGE budget, BIG names, and LOTS of marketing. The properties that could be deemed worthy would be small in number. If they were re-imagined in animation, I would think the best avenue for success would be to emphasize another genre that is more marketable these days (i.e. Gatchaman as a moe vehicle, with a possible bishonen relationship between two of the members). [...]

The bottom line is, if an old property is to be revived, re-packaged, and re-introduced to the masses in an effort to garner new fans, it's going to need more than the love of the old fans to get it. Some of the older fans don't always find the new stuff exciting, either. Some even find the newer, grittier, more sexual and violent themes to be to much for an animated show. I don't mind it if it makes sense, but I have no intention of letting my child see Black Lagoon when I have Gatchaman to fall back on. At the end of the day, maybe it's better to leave the old property alone, as not to alienate the old-schoolers. Even though I have learned to enjoy new stuff like FMA, Soul Eater, and GITS, I still like my old stuff. It was good enough for my generation, it should be good enough for theirs. Now get off my lawn!
You can read the entire letter here.

The poster is repeating some of my old soapbox points: Lots of marketing, huge budget, strong story (all the latest released Gatchaman efforts, especially the OAV, suffered from weak stories). As for a bishonen love interest between Ken and Joe, while that's not my cup of tea, Gatchaman fans all over the globe have been doing this in fanfic and doujinshi ever since the show first aired. That being said, I would not be that enthusiastic about a moe Gatchaman, and I'd be just tolerant of a grittier and more violent Gatchaman. Maybe this is a show that's better left well enough alone.

You don't have to get off my lawn, but don't trample the flowers, 'kay?

What are your thoughts?


d. merrill said...

I don't feel the need to prosletyze or 'sell' the old school stuff to anime fans - I've seen a lot of fans of my generation who would literally FORCE people to watch the old stuff, and that generally has the opposite effect. The classic anime is out there for people to get if they want it. People who have any interest in the medium at all will eventually want to see what influenced their current favorites.

As far as updating a classic, I think you have to do as the recent Dr. Who series has done - emphasize what makes the show entertaining. Take it back to the basics. It's possible to produce a series that can appeal to fans both old and new, that show has proved it.

Wendy said...

I don't ever force people to watch stuff they have no interest in. I know it's good. ;-)

As the Dr. Who franchise demonstrates, it is possible to renew a series, but it takes something special to bring out what made the original entertaining. This is why all the efforts to revive Gatchaman so far have failed. Either the staff involved just doesn't get it, or the executives they sell to just don't get it.