In the past I’ve posted MarzGurl’s “Anime News Editorials” on subjects where I agreed with her and factored into the various goals of the Spotlight. This time, however, I’m posting one where I disagree with her. I suppose it was inevitable. As I posted last week (correction: it was back on May 6th), I don’t think of anime any different than I do animation from the west, which I don’t think of any differently than I do live-action shows. It’s just another way to tell a story.
However, the news of 4Kids Entertainment currently being in trouble is something that makes fans of Japanese animation…eh, let’s get me more in trouble with the anime community…Japanese cartoons (I should wear body armor to ConnectiCon this year) very happy. Just listen to the spring in MarzGurl’s voice in this.
And if you think she’s happy you should read the comments at That Guy With The Glasses.com. They’re ecstatic over the possibility of 4Kids shutting down.
Here’s why they’re wrong!
Now before any more bunched panties show up, it’s not like anime fans don’t have any gripe at all. I went on and on last time about the “anime purists”, and I stand by that. However, there is some legitimate issues to be taken with the altering of the source material. (Then again, if you think Japan doesn’t mess with our stuff to some point, you are naive. They alter our openings and at least one show, Beast Wars: Transformers, had their tone changed to become something a bit more on the comical side than the show Mainframe Entertainment produced.)
That said, there seems to be a mistake here. 4Kids Entertainment IS NOT an anime distribution company like Funimation, Media Blasters, or Viz. They are a video production and distribution company focusing on kids entertainment. You know, 4Kids? Look at the list of 4Kids productions past and present copy/pasted from Wikipedia:
Current TV productions
- Dinosaur King
- Pajanimals (with The Jim Henson Company)
- Pat & Stan
- RollBots (Broadcast rights only)
- Viva Piñata (Broadcast rights only)
- Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s
Future TV productions
- Da Jammies
- Dragon Ball Z Kai (Broadcast rights only)
- HTDT (Broadcast rights only)
- Rocket Monkeys
- Tai-Chi Chasers
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Movie: Super Fusion! Bonds that Transcend Time (in development)
Ended TV productions still airing
- Magical DoReMi
- Sonic X (joint license with Viz Media)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 TV series)
- Winx Club (now only broadcast rights)
Online-exclusive former TV productions
The following TV programs aired on television at some point and are now shown exclusively on the 4Kids TV website:
- Biker Mice from Mars (Broadcast rights only)
- Cubix: Robots for Everyone
- Di-Gata Defenders (Broadcast rights only)
- Huntik: Secrets & Seekers (Distribution only)
- Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight (Broadcast rights only)
- Skunk Fu! (acquired from Kids’ WB!; broadcast rights only)
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX
Former TV productions
The following TV programs have ended or expired but were handled by 4Kids Entertainment along their run:
- The Adrenaline Project (Broadcast rights only)
- Alien Racers
- Back to the Future: The Animated Series (Broadcast rights only)
- Bratz (Broadcast rights only)
- Fighting Foodons
- Funky Cops
- F-Zero GP Legend
- G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 (Distribution and dubbing only)
- Incredible Crash Dummies
- Kappa Mikey
- Kirby: Right Back At Ya! (currently unlicensed)
- Mew Mew Power (production ceased at episode 26; currently unlicensed)
- One Piece (production ceased at 104 episodes; now handled by FUNimation)
- Pirate Islands (Broadcast rights only)
- Pokémon (production ceased at 416 episodes; now handled by Pokémon USA and distributed by Viz Media)
- Pokémon Chronicles (now distributed by Viz Media)
- Shaman King
- Stargate Infinity (Broadcast rights only)
- The Cramp Twins (Broadcast rights only)
- Tama and Friends
- Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy
- Ultraman Tiga
- WMAC Masters
Non-television properties handled by 4Kids Entertainment (or worldwide licensed)
- The American Kennel Club
- Cabbage Patch Kids
- The Cat Fanciers’ Association
- The Dog
- Jim Henson Designs
- The Kooky Klickers
- Monster Jam
- Royal Air Force
- Karito Kids
And back to my ranting. Do you know how many of those productions are NOT an animated series from Japan? MOST OF THEM! (That’s ignoring the last list, of non-television properties they license for other groups.) Heck, they don’t even have the license anymore on some of the anime they dubbed. But calling 4Kids an anime distributor is like calling Disney an anime distributor for putting out Howl’s Moving Castle, or World Events Productions for having Voltron and Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. Allow me to note that those are the ONLY TWO ANIME WEP put out, before anyone tries to convince me that they are an anime distributor (unless you acknowledge that “anime” is just short for animation and not the official name of any animated show/movie that Japan produces, so any animated show is technically “anime”).
So what are you anime fans celebrating? One of the few remaining distribution groups that makes shows for kids? Is that a bad thing? According to some respondents, yes. Although I’m reposting two Jake & Leon strips in two days, this guy actually exists.
Seriously, one of the complaints I’ve seen is that by 4Kids distributing anime that they’re enforcing the stereotype that anime and cartoons are only for kids. (So who do we blame for the hentai stereotype?) In my head, that can read as “if they stop making animated shows for kids, maybe it will be taken more seriously as an artform”. Sure, and why stop there? Maybe if Sesame Street wasn’t made for kids then puppet shows could be made for older people and be taken seriously. Oh, wait..they have older-targeted puppet series. Reality check folks: kids entertainment is on the decline, as more and more networks and studios decide to target the 18-34 demographic. Saturday morning is a shell of it’s former self, there are no kids shows in syndication, and the few kid-targeted networks that are left are being run by people who don’t care, much like Sci-Fi Channel, or the current Cartoon Network (thanks to the same guy who took the “Movie Classics” out of AMC).
I’m not sure if this is a reality check, or if this is what is burning the anime purists backsides, but it’s called 4Kids, which means it’s for kids, which means YOU ARE NOT THE TARGET AUDIENCE! In a previous editorial about televised dubs, MarzGurl even notes that these shows are what got many kids into anime in their older years. My generation had Battle of the Planets and Robotech, two other shows that get the purists steamed. I suppose they hate the original Speed Racer and Gigantor, too. This gets Japanimation on the air, people. It’s what makes people curious in shows they may not otherwise hear about.
How many people outside of the anime community have ever heard of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya? Not as many as have heard of Cowboy Bebop, and even that isn’t as famous as Speed Racer or Pokémon. Ask yourselves if you want these shows to get a wider exposure, and therein a wider audience, of if you only want it all for yourselves and this little community, where it will never be recognized for the great storytelling that it is? You don’t have any more chance of converting anime critics as you do people who dismiss comic books or target video games for backlash (which used to be comics, which used to be Saturday morning, which also used to be anime, when pre-Pokémon, people only thought of Japanimation as Akira and hentai). Just deal with it, forget about anyone else’s approval, and enjoy your shows. Let “them” enjoy their version, and try to find a way to win converts with other stuff.
By the way, if 4Kids goes down, a lot of people are going to be out of a job. People with a family who may have trouble feeding that family in this current economy, where finding a job is so difficult. But as long as you get to see the male member of Team Rocket swearing and flashing his Dolly Parton chest at people, I suppose you really don’t care, do you?