I thought I’d only be watching two shows this season, maybe a few others here and there, but mostly I was in it for the Gundam. Then I caught wind of this Parasyte Maxim thing where this guy’s hand turns into a dick or something, so I’m watching that too. I’m behind on my Sailor Moon Crystal. It seems like a lot of this stuff as been filling my twitter as of late…
The new box set of Yu Yu Hakusho for girls just came out, and quite a few people are disheartened with Viz’s botched release. Not to mention Crystal has been running for what feels like forever; it’s an exciting time for fans of the series. Sailor Moon is a show that has permeated in American fandom since before the Toonami days. Sure there had been tapes and such on US soil, but stories of back then make it seem like there where tapes of everything over here.Those tape days where really the first wave of American anime fandom.
For fans of heavy metal I offer this analogy. Back in 1968, bands like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath gave your dad a reason worth living and music he could be proud of. And thus was the birth of the genre of music we now call heavy metal. It lasted for little over a decade. But over time, like most musical movements, those noisy kids started to run into problems,and petered out. Then came in the younger dad generation, with what we call the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Motor Head became the new household names. Anime is much the same way.
Here in the US, a similar movement can be observed. The first ‘wave’ was brought about by Starblazers and Battle of the Planets, Speed Racer and Grendizer. The second owes its enduring presence to the likes of Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Dragonball, and Sailor Moon. It’s not that anime ever stopped in between, but more that it received a second wind of sorts. But this idea isn’t exclusive to fandom, it’s present the shows themselves. My point: it all comes from somewhere.
With anime being such a small community, there is so much that ties one work to another. Take a look at our beautiful warrior for example. One of the most recognizable features in Sailor Moon are the transformations. In fact, it’s hard to have any magical girl show without an aura of heavenly light showering the character while clothes are magically replaced; it’s second only to plot armor. A more recent showing of this can be found in Gen Urobuchi’s Pella Magi Madoka Magicia, the Evangelion of magical girl shows. A strong example is 2010’s Panty & Stocking with Garderbelt of studio GANAX fame, who’s transformation sequence was pivotal for anyone who watched it, weeding out the fans from everyone else.
But what it was mocking wasn’t started in 2010, or even with Sailor Moon. The original transforming hero was invented by a man named Shotaro Ishinomori in the early 70’s with the legend, Kamen Rider. The role that Kamen Rider holds cannot be underestimated. It is literally the Velvet Underground of anime, manga, and tokusatsu, but was commercially successful. To put a spin on an oft recited quote “Everyone who watched Kamen Rider went on to start some sort of anime.” It is here the henshin warrior was born.
Only when the costume is donned does the henshin warrior obtain his powers. In Japan, clothes make the man. It’s an idea we’ve internalized, a visual cue that our hero now has the power to combat all sorts of evil and wrong-doing. However, of the many things he added in his lifetime, magical girls is something Ishinomori left more or less untouched, with the exception listed before. To make a long story short, the man that gave birth to the henshin warrior concept was not the one who married it to the magical girl genre. The title of facilitator for that holy matrimony is held by his protege, Kiyoshi Nagai, or as most know him, Go Nagai. And oh-so-many things come back to Go Nagi…
If Osamu Tezuka is the ‘God of Manga’, then it’d be only fair to assign Ishinomori ‘Prophet of Manga’, making Nagai the ‘King of Manga’. What kingdom would allow Go Nagai to reign supreme is beyond me though, certainly not one with PTA groups. Then again, he is the living King Midas, so perhaps it wouldm’t be too bad. Everything the man touches turns to gold, assuming gold is equivalent as public outcry/controversy/ebola (but somehow still maintains its value). Go Nagai is a topic that deserves discussion at length, but for now lets focus on Cutie Honey.
Enter a chilly Monday; likely overcast/rain with possible wind. The date is October 1st, 1973, the 41st issue of Weekly Shonen Companion hit the shelves of konbini everywhere. Not two weeks later, the now named TV Asahi hosted the first broadcast of the Cutie Honey television series; 25 episodes of Toei Animation goodness. Departing from the more extreme Go Nagai-isims (profanity, violence, nudity, lesbians, and nude lesbians) this TV counterpart was intended to be a shojo series, and would take the time-slot the previous magical girl show. This idea was scrapped, Cutie Honey went on to be the first shonen magical girl show, and the time-slot was rewarded to the forgettable Miracle Girl Limit-chan. But the series made a splash, and the ripples are still felt today through its successors and newer incarnations.
If you want to descend the ladder, or take the DeLorean, back even further, you’ll find Sally the Witch (some say doubles as the first shojo anime as well), Himitsu no Akko-chan, and then the God of Manga’s Princess Knight. All are the base stones of the genre as well, each deserving of your attention. As for now, Cutie Honey is probably the easiest for fans of Sailor Moon to relate to, and thus is a great place to start. Some might say it’s too cliche, or lacks originality; and that’s why I wrote this, just to show them how very wrong they are.
Well, originally I intended to add a few more shows to this post, but if I haven’t provoked a thought or two and given you something to chew on already, go back to watching Crystal. Maybe I’ll talk about wines based off mecha series or the properties the GumGum fruit has on one’s genitalia.