Retrospective- The Rise and Fall of Anime and Manga into the Niche


In the 1980s America got it’s first taste of “Anime”. Mainstream titles like:
Astro Boy
Speed Racer
Urusei Yatsura
Space Battleship Yamato/ Harlock/Galaxy Express
Gundam: Mobile Suit

And those at the time were what we consider today “Anime in the 80s”. The medium was unexplored territory. With works like Gem, MLP G1, Garfield, Space Ranger, He-Man/She-Ra, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Silverhawks, Thundercats, GI Joe and dozens of other american titles they were swept up in the mix. What we didn’t get were the huge works till years later from Japan and much of the content we DID get was Rush-Dubbed. We also SLOWLY saw the advent of Manga in the 80s but it wasn’t till the next decade did translators (and a few non-translators implanting their own stories into the speech bubbles) honestly begin the flood.

The 90’s Kayo Ken

I doubt they’d ever all pose together like this.
So much Gundam….

The big push came with the rush of cross culture media. MTV, VH1, and various other news sources started to expose the world to more strange content. Musicians were using Anime in the background of their videos or even FOR their videos. Manga became a new exotic medium for comic book stores to sell fresh translations of. The “Mainstream” anime we got were:
Sailor Moon
Lupin the III

Ranma 1/2
Dragonball Z (Dragonball was translated later)
Project Lyoko (Computer Animated)
Gundam Wing/Gundam G Fighter
Inyu Yasha
Yu Yu Hakasho
Bubblegum Crisis
Cutey Honey
Blood the Last Vampire
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Sorcerer Hunters
City HunterRonin Warriors
My Neighbor Totoro
Ghost in the Shell

Palbot Mobile Tank Police
Dirty PairTenchi Muyo
Outlaw Star
Cowboy Bebop

We also got Manga corresponding with MOST of this anime and the advent of adult content (but that would be a multipage list on it’s own so we’ll just leave it at that).  The Cable Cartoon Network spearheaded the Anime Movement with their “Toonami” programming list while the Sci-Fi (now SyFy) Channel had their “Saturday Morning Anime Hour” and the Warner Brothers network had the popular “Pokemon” and “Yu-Gi-Oh” and Fox News Network had their hands on properties like “Digimon”. These were what established the “Mainstream” titles and exposure while there were more obscure things happening around the same time.
Another medium appeared called “American Manga” (also called Pseudo-Manga by the critics at the time). These were works by Ben DunnFred Perry and Adam Warren.
Ben Dunn- Ninja High School/Marvel Mangaverse/Gigantor Revised

SO ANIMU! (Don’t kill me, Benn-San, please)

Fred Perry- Gold Digger/Legacy

Plunger Gun. Mmmhmm.

Adam Warren- Dirty Pair Comic Book Adaptation/Star Wars Manga

Selling point= T&A

Ben and Fred have worked together on the smaller publishing venue known as “Antarctic Press” while Adam was “Hailed as the godfather of Pseudomanga” despite actually being the LAST of the first three to start authoring comics in a Manga-esque look and style but because he had the HUGE Property holder/Publisher “Dark Horse Comics” behind him both Ben and Fred, sadly, never got the recognition for being pioneers in “American Manga” besides the claims in their comics. Meanwhile, Viz comics were cranking out translations of EVERYTHING and the Manga/Anime Fever Bug began to spread with the increase of “Anime Clubs” and “Anime Conventions” like Anime Expo and various other named conventions.
There were still more specific, rare titles for Anime and Manga that were the following:

There were 3 Devil Hunters… 3.

Devil Hunter Yoko (Same producer/art director as Sailor Moon)Devil Man
Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventures
Fatal Fury (Game Original)
Gokizer: Voltage Fighter (Game Original)
Street Fighter (Game Original)
Prince of Tennis
Slam Dunk
High Kicker Aya
Virus Buster Surge
Fushi Ugi
Gal Wars
Macross +/ Southern Cross

Though these were less seen titles they would set a standard slowly pushing their way into the NEXT decade of Anime/Manga culture. Time to lock down the inner Otaku folks. The next one’s a whopper of a statement…

So yea… he remade it.

The early 2000’s DESU DESU NIPPON!
Oh how cruel the times have become. Anime and manga didn’t change. The style was refined, cleaned up, given to both mature audiences and younger audiences. The lines between cultural satire, original content, social commentary, and exploitation began to merge. The advent of Streaming Media, E-Comic Pirating, and loss of content management and liability for exposure became the agonizing and slow decline for Anime and Manga. Adult content was made readily available by people who “don’t care for copyright laws or protecting the youth” that would cause worried parents to rail AGAINST the medium and at the same time cause a loss of revenue for publishers, artists, and content providers. Streaming Media also took from the TV due to lack of advertising and commercializing content and the only way to turn a profit would be to offer your content on a high quality “Download or stream” basis direct and merchandise. Some companies have began but they forget the content that MADE them what they are. If we as fans of this content don’t start speaking OUT against theft and if content providers don’t give an acknowledgement to the changes in the industry they will go broke and WE won’t have anything to watch.

My Opinion
Before I was married and had a child I would buy comics and anime EVERY MONTH. I’d say almost religiously because back then it was taking 10% of my earnings! I currently have much less than what I had bought but back in the day I was proud to buy DVDs and Comics and Merchandise but my life has changed where there are priorities to take care of first. I still pick up a Gold Digger comic when I can but when I look at the newest Manga on the shelf… or the newest incarnation of Magical Girl Cute Vixen 900 I die a little bit on the inside.

-Robert Rankin
All characters Copyright their creators.

Mai from Fatal Fury. Oh My.

One Comment on “Retrospective- The Rise and Fall of Anime and Manga into the Niche

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