Anime on the Silver Screen [07/19/02]

With the growing popularity of anime in Western society, it's a wonder that more series or feature films don't make appearances in the box office alongside what Hollywood puts out. This is not to say it hasn't happened already - Pokemon has had a handful of films and even Ghost in the Shell came into the theaters in limited release - but considering some of the less than good films that crowd the theaters, I can't imagine adding some overseas animation would be all that bad.

Anime, to some degree, has always been a popular staple for kids (and even teens to a similar degree) on television, most noticeably during Saturday mornings. With the recent trend toward putting more anime on TV, largely in part due to the popularity of Pokemon and Cartoon Network's Toonami and Adult Swim, the genre seems to be growing in popularity and attention. Even the lesser known series are getting more airplay, even if it is later at night or very early in the morning.

As movie-goers, we've always proven that animated features, most noticeably Disney, Pixar and Don Bluth films, have done moderately to excellently well in the theaters. While those films may have been marketed towards a broader, more family-friendly demographic, animated features still manage to draw in the crowds. While some anime is kid-friendly, some of the better animes are aimed at an older crowd.

This is not to say that mainstream, bread-and-butter movie-goers will instantly flock to see anime on the silver screen. The genre doesn't beckon more conservative, traditional viewers. No matter what, some people will write off animated features as child's play. There are more mature, adult themes in some of the titles, but to be honest, some of the more fantasy-based and even oddly themed features may not translate well to viewers not used to anime's quirkiness.

It really is a shame that movies such as Jin Roh and Blue Submarine No. 6 didn't get their shot in American theaters like they should have. Maybe they would have gotten the chance to shine and show off that good animation and stories are possible from overseas. While I will admit that foreign films aren't quite as popular here and never get much of a serious shot from the standard film critic, the market seems to be ripe for at least a few of the major animes to get time in the theaters.

- - Vane

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