Set the DeLorean to 1979February 25, 2013
If you pay attention to the anime and manga blogging community you may have noticed the The Golden Ani-Versary of Anime project. Geoff Tebbetts decided to celebrate 50 years of anime being on television by having different bloggers each take a year from 1963 to 2013 and discuss how it fits into the great portrait of the history of anime. We boldly decided to tackle 1979.
As always, we are just slightly verbose so to keep everything in under the suggested 2000-word limit for the project we decided to divide up our thoughts into a couple of segments. This part here is a bonus introduction to our contribution to the project.
1979 is a hard year to sum up in terms of this trend or that, but more than anything it feels like a culmination of a decade. The thing that stood out to me as we perused the many series of the year was their designs and settings. TV anime have always had an eye for long-form stories and that has always stood out to fans of anime over the decades, but up until the 80s the Western influence on the medium is much more palpable. Speaking in generalities, I feel like the 80s is when anime really comes into its own and finds its style. So 1979 is an important year of adhering to the past and setting the tone for the future of anime.
With this project I think we wanted to pick a year that has some shows that mean a good deal to us as well as some shows that are going to be completely new. Therefore there were several good years to choose from. We picked 1979 for several reasons. First off the bat it sits nicely in the middle of the project. The 60s and early 70s are a bit harder to research to get any comprehensive overview without having a decent fluency in Japanese. On the other hand as you go father into the 80s your acting more as a curator for select titles than providing anything comprehensive. But 1979 is a nice compromise between all these factors.
It is long enough ago that you can watch at least a few episodes of almost everything made that year without killing yourself like you would have to in the modern era. But at the same time it is modern enough that almost everything has some sort of translated version. This was still the era when anime would be brought over to the US and dubbed over with the express purpose of making sure no one in America knew these were foreign cartoons. So we still have some major rewrite dubs like Thundersub and Angel. While most of the series don’t have a legitimate English release a good deal of the series at least have a fan-sub or one or two episodes. And in the end that is mostly all you need to get a sense of the era.
That balance gives us a good chance to get a good feel of the zeitgeist on the anime of 1979. I was 2 years old and Narutaki was not even a twinkle in her parent’s eyes so we are hardly children of the era. But I think we can gleam a good sense of this year in anime which is the goal of this project. So let’s go back and try to image what it was like to be an Japanese animation fan is the year of 1979.
It was really surprising to learn how many of the series from 1979 had some sort of English, though not necessarily U.S., release. A number of the shows we came upon were dubbed when we went to watch them! Some I was aware of but others such as Space Carrier Blue Noah (Thundersub) and Hana no Ko Lunlun were new to me, probably just because I wasn’t aware of the shows beforehand at all.
There were some mighty hilarious moments because of these dubs, too. Like this gem from Lunlun, “Wish with all your might for fireproof clothing!” Or the fact that Thundersub teaches children bad geography since whenever they show a world map they insist Japan is Hawaii. And I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear that all the dubs were acted quite horrendously.
But never fear, even some of the sub translations ended up being unintentionally hilarious over the course of our viewings.
I’ll leave you with this important bit of advice: “Your Astro-pole should not be used for evil.” – Saiyuki Starzinger
Now on to the real post: