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

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

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:

Former TV productions

The following TV programs have ended or expired but were handled by 4Kids Entertainment along their run:

Non-television properties handled by 4Kids Entertainment (or worldwide licensed)

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?

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About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

4 responses »

  1. Luke says:

    It’s an interesting statement, but there are a few areas in which we disagree.

    One of the biggest problems I have with american media, is how they tend to treat children. The concept of ‘dumbing it down for kids’ shouldn’t exist. Children are human beings, with as much potential and intellect (not learned knowledge or experience, but raw intellect) as you or I, and deserve to be treated as such.

    So when you see how shows have their depth and mature meaning stripped out of them (Yugioh I’m looking at you) it really destroys the original material.

    To use a few items from your list as an example, 4kids really did a lot of damage to Tokyo Mew Mew (Mew Mew Power) and Yugioh with their distribution policies.

    What I don’t understand, is how so many people in this country seem to think children aren’t people, and have to have everything toned down to something ‘they can handle’

    Then again… I might not exactly be the best person to speak on this… considering just last night I sat down and watched the first few episodes of Elfen Lied with my nine year old son and seven year old daughter, with the intent of completing the series in a week’s time.

    For what it’s worth though… both of them are really into the story, and have been asking some really thought provoking questions concerning the meanings and trying to predict where the show will go next. (The biggest difficult I have is answering them without spoiling the show for them, since I’ve already seen it lol)

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    • ShadowWing Tronix says:

      I don’t think I’ve brought it up much here, but I do have an issue with “dumbing it down” as well. If you look at some of the stuff I used to watch as a kid, even some of the “no punching, no shooting” Saturday morning stuff would be considered more violent that what you see on Saturday morning now (except for 4KidsTV on CW, interestingly enough, what with Ninja Turtles) and the weekday afternoon stuff wouldn’t be allowed thanks to “do-gooder” parents groups. Heck, look at Robotech, another bane of the “purist” faction of the pro-sub side (the ones who insist it can only be watch the way “they” prefer it). All they took out was the blood. People got show, nobody launched at the last second or used robot planes (just planes that turn into robots), they died. There are at least two on-screen deaths, one with a major character.

      The videos are no longer available, but I had an episode of Bravestarr up (not hosted, just posted) that had the title character’s hero not just accused of murder as part of a trap, but actually responsible for a murder. ON SCREEN. With an audience, no less. (We don’t see the corpse or disintegrator hit the victim, but there’s no doubt he did it.) Another kids actually dies from using drugs. You couldn’t do that today, and I don’t think either episode is on Hulu right now with the rest of the series.

      My point is that not everything 4Kids has produced was anime, so this isn’t some big translation victory. They also had network and family group pressure (this I HAVE written about in the past) as well as whatever concerns Nintendo or whomever releases the Yu-Gi-Oh card game may have. This isn’t an anime victory, but a kids TV defeat, and I think the crime has been so exaggerated that objectivity may have been lost.

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  2. […] anime community probably wouldn’t have cared about beforehand. I’ve defended 4Kids in the past. However, things are different today and that’s a good thing. Hating on Robotech though is […]

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  3. […] show. You know, like Japan did with Beast Wars: Transformers and the US did with Ghost Stories or most 4Kids dubs. Now I’m not defending the practice as something that would work today; we live in different […]

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