Acquisition season started a bit early this year for anime fans.
In the past, studios have tended to hold announcements until May,
or June, or even July. This year, the big bombshells were dropped
late March at Fanime Con. There, newcomer Digital Manga announced
the acquisitions of FLCL (Furi Kuri) and Tenshi ni Narumon, while
also "accidentally" dropping the fact that Love Hina had
been acquired by Bandai (surprising the Bandai rep, who at that
point, didn't know himself that they had Love Hina ^_^;;).
Of course, many acquisitions have been announced since then, including
Weiss Kreuz, the Aa! Megami-sama movie, Inu-Yasha, Marmalade Boy,
Initial D, Vampire Princess Miyu TV, Kaitou Saint Tail, etc. However,
the Love Hina surprise bomb still seems to be the biggest acquisition
this year (considering the popularity of the series in Japan and
in the fansub and online communities of America).
jamming with fansubs
Of course, an online community of fansubbers has made it possible
to see shows from Japan relatively soon after they have been shown
in Japan themselves. Watching them turn around Love Hina in 4 days
was quite impressive last year as well.
The acquisitions forced fansubbers to innovate or die. Year-long
lead times ceased utterly to be acceptable. Taking their cue from
Love Hina's online success, fansubbers abandoned vhs in droves,
embracing the infamous Divx ;-) codec for easy, virtually free distribution
(Or at least, all those with fast internet connections.)
This year, our favorite shows from Japan included:
Comic Party (which, amongst otaku, has a "must watch"
rating almost as high as Otaku no Video, for its insight into
the world of Doujinshi, as well as the fact that it's based
off of a Leaf H game, and has inside references to pretty much
every other Leaf game made, which includes a ridiculous number
of references just to To Heart ^_^),
Mahoromatic (more fun with fighting maids, except this time,
X (the TV series is so much better than the movies, simply
because it has the time to stick to the manga plotline, and
not dive off into its own little universe)
Noir (which, I'd argue, takes the prize for this year's best
OP song, with Kopperia no Hitsugi, a dark song that could only
be fairly described as aural candy ^_^)
Sister Princess (based off a PC game, and taking the Tokimeki
Memorial & Sentimental Graffiti premises to extremes)
and so many others
Notable movies included:
the Cowboy Bebop movie (also available on the internet for
those willing to do a bit of searching in the right places)
the much more recent quadruple feature of the Sakura Taisen
movie, Slayers Premium, a new Digi Charat adventure, and Azumanga
Daioh short (which isn't yet available on the internet).
Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi ( amid much rejoicing, as it
regained for Ghibli the coveted all-time number one slot)
American theatres showed some anime films as well, including the
finally completed Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust movie; last year's
AX favorite, the Escaflowne movie; and Production IG's Jin-Roh.
This year also saw a small re-release to theatres of Akira, complete
with remastered video and audio.
But where anime shone was on the small screen. As had been the
case last year, Gundam was still carrying some weight, as were Poke'mon
and Digimon. However, this was the year of Yu-gi-Oh (who came onto
the American scene in September, and looks to be the replacement
for Pokemon in popularity). Maybe it's the collectibility. Also
appearing on the scene is newcomer Moncolle Knights.
But anime fans only can see one true anime that really made it:
Cowboy Bebop. The other shows have been edited heavily and placed
on television as relative kiddy fare. However, Cowboy Bebop was
brought to television as anime should be brought to television when
called anime: relatively unedited entertainment for those with slightly
older tastes. Under it's Adult Swim banner, anime fans without a
strong wallet got to see a series that is very well regarded in
the anime community. While there were several edits for excessive
violence and some nudity, the show's plot pretty much stayed intact.
In its first run, 3 episodes were removed from the showing (probably
in response to the September 11th tragedy), all of which are to
be reinstated in the second run.
The Cartoon Network also premiered the excellent Samurai Jack,
which combined a uniquely American style with familiar anime elements,
to the advantage of both.
Anime conventions in general became larger and more numerous this
year. The largest, Anime Expo, had (according to their statistics)
nearly 13,000 attendees in a sprawling area of Long Beach. It boasted
many high profile guests, including Kikuko Inoue (seiyuu for Belldandy,
Kasumi, and many other beloved roles ^_^), Yu Watase (a reunion
guest attending her 3rd or 4th Anime Expo, I can't remember), Toshihiro
Kawamoto (who did character design on Cowboy Bebop) and so many
Not to be outdone, Otakon also invited Kawamoto-san, as well as
seiyuu Hikaru Midorikawa (a well respected seiyuu in his own right,
playing Heero from Gundam Wing, Tamahome from Fushigi Yuugi, and
Zelgadis from Slayers, making his roles beloved as well ^_^;;),
and also boasting a large boost in the number of attendees.
And with the Big Apple Anime Fest, anime had an event that took
over a good number of venues in New York, and even attracted the
attention of mayor Giuliani (who, at the time, was making the rounds
because of all the attention New York had received because of September
This upcoming year, there will be no fewer than 29 anime conventions
/ events in the United States, with at least 5 of those conventions
happening in California.
Anime is truly still advancing into the mainstream, so 2002 will
be an interesting year to look forward to.
Of course, there's more to life than just anime.
Manga also gave us some surprises this year. In particular, Tokyopop
has been busy acquiring a lot of manga titles, including Marmalade
Boy, Initial D, Cowboy Bebop, and Love Hina, amongst many others.
While their translations have been rated from acceptable to downright
bad, it has to be acknowledged that they have been the company acquiring
the manga everyone wants to read in the states.
Viz has not had too bad a year, either. With their continued output
of the Ayashi no Ceres manga, as well as their other lines, Viz
has produced some excellent translations. The only setback they've
had, so far, has been in their problems with dealing with the rights
of publishing X in their Animerica Extra magazine.
And, finally Tokyopop has managed, much to our surprise, to eke
out a decent position among American manga publishers. They seem
to have improved their relations with Kodansha, publishing Sailor
Moon and Card Captor Sakura in the U.S. The next year seems full
of promise for them, as American publishers move into the translated
Webcomics also found themselves unexpectedly respectable. Megatokyo
set itself to following a plot, and the rest of the otaku community
realized that webcomics were a great, wonderful, eminently entertaining
waste of time.
(But we love them anyway.)
This year focused on the 'console
war' and its associated fanfare. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft
all had current machines, all aimed squarely at overlapping market
segments, and all fed the media their own barrage of 'this has been
the most successful console release ever.'
Nintendo unveiled its new portable, the Game Boy Advance, and its
new console, the Nintendo GameCube. The biggest games for the 2
systems this year and next are inside franchises - continuations
of Mario, Metroid, and Zelda.
Microsoft, following its corporate instinct of world domination,
released the Xbox for the holiday season. To our surprise, it proved
to be something other than vaporware, and instead is a fair competitor
to the Playstation 2. It has its powerful release games in Dead
or Alive 3 and Halo.
Sony had a lead going in to the year, since its system was released
before the last Christmas season. The biggest game for the Playstation
2 this year was clearly the heavily hyped Metal Gear Solid 2, with
the most recent entry into the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy
X, coming in probably a close second.
This year Sega abdicated, announcing that they would stop making
the Dreamcast, and that the Dreamcast would be the last console
from the company. The last of the Dreamcast systems are selling
for under $50 in the States (which, for those of you who do not
have one, is a bargain price. Get it now, if you have not already!
^_^). They still make games, of course.
Sakura Taisen, one of Sega's most popular series, saw both the
release of Sakura Taisen 3, and the announcement of the upcoming
Sakura Taisen 4 games. Although it is, of course, one of the most
popular game franchises in Japan, it is still a no-show in the states
(and many of us wonder if it will ever show).
Konami also released upgrades to many of the Bemani games, continuing
to improve the series across the board, particularly with DDR 5th
mix and Beatmania IIDX 5th style.
Again, we come back to Yu-gi-Oh. Yu-gi-Oh is (in the commercial
viewpoint) all about the merchandising ^_^;;. Anyone who watches
the anime on the WB can tell that. Of course, Yu-gi-Oh is a Konami
franchise, so that bodes well for Konami if Yu-gi-Oh can take over
as the next Pokemon.
While the effects of September 11th were visible in all 3 cases,
it certainly seems to have passed by the obvious elements of all
3 industries. The anime industry seems little affected by it, and
the gaming industry, while taking some measures to adjust the violence
in its games, still also seems little affected. The manga industry
continues apace. We otaku should probably all be thankful for this.
However, times are changing, and there's no knowing what will happen
See you in 2002. Smile back. . . ^_^
For the real world, and the country we live in (the United
States), the year 2001 started with the inaugration of a president.
Sort of a president. A man better-known for his ears than
Japan brought in a fun-loving yet revolutionary prime minister,
Junichiro Koizumi, a young guy with a strange haircut and
a love of J-visual rock group X-Japan. As Chris comments,
"finally, a leader with musical taste." Japan was
also blessed with a new princess later in the year, as Princess
Aiko was born to Prince Naruhito & Princess Masako. (There
was much rejoicing.)
Humans were successfully cloned for the first time this year,
causing much fear and not a little amusement as Katsuhiro
Otomo's work gained relevance and popularity.
Governments had varying reactions. Uniquely, Japan decided
to permit human-animal hybrid cloning. Otaku began to spend
more time fantasizing about cat girls. (Japan also decided
to ban human cloning, unsurprisingly.)
George Harrison and Dougas Adams, two cultural monuments
beloved of the staff, died during the year of natural causes.
We mourned and moved on, as did the rest of the world.
The American sports world saw lots of excitement, and one
very sad tragedy.
In the beginning of the year, while watching both his race
driver and his son speed to victory ahead of him, Dale Earnhardt
crashed into the 4th turn wall at Daytona during the last
lap of the Daytona 500 and died. The racing world lost a hero
of sorts that day.
But the sports world was filled with much happier times during
the year. Baseball fans around the nation watched as Barry
Bonds, the great slugger from San Francisco, slammed 73 balls
out of the ballpark, setting a new record for most home runs
in a season. Baseball fans also watched as the Seattle Mariners
powered their way to a 116-win season, the best ever in the
American League, led by rookie hitting and catching sensation
Ichiro Suzuki. The world series games were better than they
have been in many years, as a true pitcher's duel between
both teams drove the contest to a 7th game, won in the last
Of course, Los Angeles was upbeat, as our hometown basketball
team, the Los Angeles Lakers, easily cruised to a second championship
(and their less noted sisters, the Los Angeles Sparks, also
won their championship this year).
Many prominently budgeted movies saw release during the year,
including Moulin Rouge, Jurassic Park III, Tomb Raider, Harry
Potter, and Lord of the Rings, alongside countless other films.
Otaku, by and large, noted these movies while maintaining
their conviction that their time would be better spent watching
The world's focus shifted on September 11th when terrorists
decided to bring down symbols of United States economic power,
the World Trade Center in New York City. Mass media coverage
brought the tragedy to the homes of every television, keeping
many people glued to their sets for hours on end.
Suddenly, everything changed. George W. found himself popular.
Security in events and flights increased significantly. And
the nation declared war on an enemy that has no single concentration
or political body.
Terrorism aside, American cultural hedgemony proved it was
here to stay, as the global trend of mergers and buyouts continued,
and the strength of the American economy proved difficult
Japan, on the other hand, finally began to show signs of
the weak economy economists have criticized for so long, as
unemployment rose and the yen fell. Japan continued, however,
to resist attempts at economic reform.
Several of the Eva pilots were born this year, including
Rei Ayanami, Shinji Ikari, Touji Suzuhara, and Asuka Langley.
Time continued to pass.