Lost in the shuffle.

Certain fashions are timeless and others are only products of their time. Jeans are always fashionable but bell-bottoms are very much a product of the 70’s. Anime can be the same way. Certain shows are classics and forever will be. I can’t see a time when people won’t be talking about Evangelion, Akira, or Castle of Cagliastro in anime fandom. Other series seem to be all the rage, necessary viewing for anime fans, and then disappear from consciousness like they were never released at all. Some shows fade because they lose their novelty factor, others fade because the genre they are in falls out of favor, and some seem to fade for no other reason other than people don’t like older shows.

Oh, so many shows, so little time. It seems that American fans hang on to shows a lot longer than the Japanese do. So it comes as no surprise that so many series get swept under the rug. Most people are looking for the newer, better thing.

Now on to those who were once giants but now have been humbled by time.

Ranma, Ranma, Ranma. Where do I begin? Ranma 1/2 is the story of a tough guy martial artist who, after falling into a cursed spring, turns into a girl when splashed with cold water. Much like Midori Days, it’s one of those shows with a premise that so easily could be used for some bizarre hentai but is used for only slightly ecchi situational comedy. Ranma’s father has promised his long time friend, Soun Tendo, that Ranma would marry one of his daughters and carry on each families martial artist style. The Tendo family decides that Ranma should be engaged to Akane, the youngest sister. Due to a general distaste for boys and a series of unfortunate events (and Ranma being a ego-maniacal jerk) during their first meeting, Ranma and Akane’s engagement starts off on a bad foot. Their relationship never seems to improve as dozens of aspiring fiancees and would be rivals show up to complicate their fragile relationship. There is lots of comical martial arts fighting combined with situational school comedy and cold-water changing mix-ups.

Ranma 1/2 was, at a time, Viz’s flagship title in the U.S. It seemed like the show everyone had an opinion about. Love it or hate it; everyone had seen some Ranma 1/2. There were those people who loved it and thought it was the best thing ever. And those people who hated it and wished the people who loved it would shut the heck up about it. It was constantly cosplayed, fan-fiction boards were flooded with Ranma stories of all types, and almost every list of favorite characters had someone from Ranma on it.

I had a friend at the time who was big-time into Ranma. I saw a lot of it through her and luckily our local video store carried quite a few tapes of it. It seemed to be like one of the first shows, along with a couple of others on this list, that had such a huge cast of characters it was almost impossible not to find one you liked. That was the real magic in it I think.

You can still find fans of Ranma 1/2 but most of the hardcore fandom has moved on to other shows and most people only speak about it with a distant nostalgia (or a dry contempt). All of Rumiko Takahashi’s major works seem to illicit this type of reaction, but I think Ranma is the epitome of this syndrome. Urusei Yatsura came around when there was less of an anime community, so it made a smaller impact because there were less people in anime fandom. The Inu-Yasha manga is still ongoing in Japan and the American fandom has not totally died down. So it doesn’t fall in this category yet. I myself actually like Takahashi’s characters even though they are usually utter jerks. Most people tend not to like Ranma 1/2 because it’s extremely long. It also has a habit of dressing up the same jokes in slightly different clothes. For some reason, I really like Takahashi’s series but your mileage may vary.

My tolerance was rather short. I still really love the OVAs and the movies. But could I sit through 7 season of Ranma? Hell no. I think your ability to do so really has to do with whether or not you liked Ranma, himself. I find it difficult to watch a show if I can’t atleast tolerate the main character. However, I tend to think all of Rumiko’s main works run too long. That is the fault of the editors no doubt.

I think this sums it up best.

Fushigi Yugi is a harem anime for girls. Okay, it’s more than that but lets not ignore this fact. Miaka Yuki and her friend, Yui Hongo, are ordinary girls who get transported into a fictional world contained in a magical book called The Universe of the Four Gods. Miaka soon learns that she is the priestess of Suzaku. The duty of the priestess of Suzaku is to find the seven celestial warriors and summon the god Suzaku. The problem there is a rival nation that worships Seiryu is trying to stop Miaka from summoning Suzaku and will doing anything is their power to stop her.

Anything includes trying to kidnap and rape her 40 times. Because I swear this child is helpless.

Fushigi Yugi was one of the first and one of the biggest break out shojo anime back at a time when the only titles that were being brought over were shonen titles. It was definitely not the first shojo title released in the U.S. either commercially or through fan-subs, but it was still a majorly influential. The old story goes that t Karen Duffy can in many way be considered the person who most helped Fushigi Yugi become the juggernaut that it was. Her fan-subs supposedly almost single handily created a fan-base for Fushigi Yugi in the U.S. No matter how it started it was the tremendous fan-sub fan-base is what got American companies interested in the show. It was definitely a show that came to be licensed in the states with the help of fan-subs. It most probably would have eventually come over to the U.S. but it come over when it did because fan-subs made English-speaking fans aware that such a show existed.

This is such a cool story because it shows the power of fan-subs, in a positive way. I’m sure it has been exaggerated but it can’t be denied that Fushigi Yuugi would never have been what it was if not for the tape trading community. This also put Yuu Watase’s work on the map here in the U.S. Her and CLAMP were the first big shojo manga-ka to gain a following when the manga industry just started up.

This was a show that had a distinctly shojo feel but borrowed enough shonen elements that it had a decent crossover appeal. Despite it’s male fans it should obvious that Fushigi Yugi had a largely female fan-base. In many ways it was a good bridge for all the girls who wanted to watch something else from Japan after Sailor Moon. Since Miaka Yuki was in many ways an ideal self insertion character and was surrounded by a harem of good looking guys, of all stripes, it is no surprise that it quickly gained a female following. The internet was flooded with shrines devoted to any and all of the Celestial warriors, and most of the other male characters form the series. Even the villainous Nakago had a large fan community. It seemed like every girl in anime fandom had watched Fushigi Yugi and would always try to get the guy in their circle of fandom to watch it.

We can thank Fushigi Yuugi for a number of things. Firstly, it was a more mature shojo title than Sailor Moon. It dealt with more adult relationships, sex, betrayal, and death. It also made girl otaku realize, what Japan knew all along, the appeal of the bishonen. Yuu Watase couldn’t draw an ugly guy to save her life. For most this was a somewhat new flavor to the mix. It also did really well in the manga realm and this kick started the shojo manga crazy that has never quite picked up in anime form here in the states.

Now it seems that U.S. fandom has mostly turned against Fushigi Yugi to the point where it is often considered a good example of what is wrong with certain types of shows in anime. Most people seem to talk about it as if they can’t see why they would have ever liked a show like that. It is a show that contains quite a few cliches, a long some would say overextended plot-line, and a good number of people would punch Miaka in the face if they ever met her in real life. If nothing else I know Kohaku still loves this series (and still loves Tasuki).

Well, as a fan-base grows older it seems easy to look back and question your tastes. I was never a fan of this show myself, I had the first two VHS tapes and that was about as far as I got. I read a bit more of the manga. Yuu Watase, still has a huge following, but you don’t really see that in anime. Since, I believe most of her series aren’t animated. I think this skews the idea of why it is looked at with contempt. Quite frankly, series with characters like this are still very popular in shojo manga. You might not see it anime wise, and you won’t see male fans picking up on it anymore. Fushigi Yuugi’s crossover appeal, in my opinion, was product of its time. There wasn’t that much, it was a new concept, and people didn’t have the same expectations. So to say completely useless female heroines surrounded by pretty guys is not popular, would be a mistake.

Slayers was a insanely popular comedy series in the U.S. back in the day. Slayers is set in a D&D fantasy universe with a decidedly farcical slant. Lina Inverse is a sorceress supreme who much like a D&D character wanders around fighting bandits and looting them for treasure. During one of the bandit hunting expeditions she runs into a handsome, but somewhat dim, swordsman named Gourry Gabriev and his legendary Sword of Light. They begin traveling together due to Goury’s want to protect Lina and Lina’s desire to get the Sword of Light. Along the way they usually run a foul of some major demon and reluctantly foil their nefarious schemes. They are eventually joined by the stoic chimera, Zelgadis, and the justice otaku, Princess Amelia. Most of the movies and OAVs are prequels to the TV series that involve Lina and her rival/traveling companion Naga the White Serpent. Although there is usually a very serious overall plot-line, the general tone is always comical and everything is tinged with parody and sarcasm.

Hey, you totally forgot Xellos! That secret keeping priest! And where would the yaoi doujinshi community be without him? Slayers is a show that there was also lots of fan-fiction written about as I recall. And I also saw many sites dedicated to pairings from this show. As my previous statement suggests, they weren’t all canon. I distinctly remember a site that was trying to convince people that Zelgadis and Xellos were clearly in love.

Next you going to say Trowa x Quatre is not canon.

Slayers seems to have had a major effect on the Japanese fantasy anime market by the sheer fact that it spawned dozens of similar comedy fantasy shows. Even the anime Rune Soldier, which is set in the Record of Lodoss world, uses the same comedy/drama formula. It seemed to be a show that was used much like Record Of Lodoss War to draw in people who were familiar with RPGs but knew nothing of anime. Other people went to Slayers after watching Record Of Lodoss War, more fantasy and were not thrown off by Slayers comical bent.

Now here’s a series I can really get behind; hilarious slap-stick comedy combined with almighty power! Plus, there is very little, good fantasy anime. I think that is why both Slayers and Lodoss gained a really large legion of fans. I was and still am a fan of both shows. I am always shocked that there isn’t more like these two shows with the plethora of RPG video games out there. Oh, and as a side note: all the songs were all a lot of fun! I always liked that about the show.

As far as I can tell most people just don’t watch Slayers anymore mostly because it’s old. It still has somewhat of a following, proven when Tokyopop thought of dropping the novel series. They got a massive write in campaign that seems to have saved the series for now. Funimation picked up the TV series with a savior license but I’m curious how well that is doing for them.

Well, I just saw them on the best sellers over at Right Stuf, so that is atleast something. It is true the style and animation look a bit dated. I really think that is the only thing holding it back. Comedy can be universal and many times timeless. I think Slayers is that way, since it is mostly physical comedy.

I will forgo making the overused joke about Cowboy Beobop spoilers and the sexual orientation of certain members of the WWWA and jump right into what the Dirty Pair is about. Kei and Yuri are jack-of-all-trades trouble shooters for the intergalactic World Welfare Works Association. Code named the “Lovely Angels” they are both famous and infamous in the organization. Famous because they they have a perfect success record in the organization and solve the hardest cases, uncover the most obtuse mysteries, and untangle the most byzantine of webs of deception. Infamously called the “Dirty Pair” because almost of of their missions causes a horrific amount of collateral damage. Each episode is self-contained and there is no real need for continuity so they can be watched in any order.

The Dirty Pair was based on a series of light novels by Haruka Takachiho, the author of Crusher Joe. It spawned the anime which was a sleeper hit but went to included a series of OAVs, movies, and a alternate universe series called Dirty Pair Flash. It was also very popular back in the day in the U.S., too. The Dirty Pair was so popular an American comic was produced based on the anime. Toren Smith and Adam Warren wrote and drew an English version of the series with their own take on the characters. The term “girls with guns” was coined for Dirty Pair and made the genre popular with U.S. fans. In fact, certain apocrypha states that Burn Up! became popular in the states due to fans of the Dirty Pair looking for a similar show. The popularity of Burn Up! in the America lead the Japanese to make Burn Up W (Not that the Dirty Pair should be held responsible for Burn Up W).

I remember renting the movies quite a lot. The series is full of big, exploding action but also has comedy thrown in the mix. Also you have two really bad ass female characters and it never felt like the fan-service was over the top enough for anyone to be offended. I assume the popularity of the show also went hand in hand with the Bubblegum Crisis following.

I don’t know why the Dirty Pair has fallen out of favor with US audiences. I feel other than slightly outdated (but still nice) animation there is nothing for modern fans not to like about the Dirty Pair. It has enough eye candy of beautiful girls and heart pounding action for the guys, strong female characters for the girls, and comedy for everyone. I guess really the reason the show fell out of favor was the fact that the genre itself fell out of favor.

80’s character designs. Is the pure and simple reason.

BTW, I feel shows like Noir and Gunslinger Girls are not Girls with Guns series despite what Wikipeida might say.

Now, the show we can blame everything that came afterwards for, Tenchi Muyo. This show was big, big…mega big. It was on television! And there was so much merchandise you could have drowned yourself in it. There are about 10,000 different sequels, movies, books, etc. Yes that is right, Tenchi brought us harem anime.

If Tenchi Muyo did not start the harem anime genre, it at least is the most popular of the first harem anime. The story revolves around Tenchi Masaki, who is quite the average ordinary boy, except for the fact that his grandfather is the owner of a Shinto temple. One day, he goes into the forbidden cave on the temple grounds and accidentally releases Ryoko, a space pirate sealed in the temple long ago. After stopping her from killing him, Tenchi gets Ryoko to warm up to him. But before they can get to know one another, Ayeka and Sasami, two space princesses, come to capture Ryoko but end up falling in love with Tenchi. A ditzy space police officer named Mihoshi also comes look for Ryoko, and happens to fall in love with Tenchi. The genius mad scientist Washu also comes by and, if you haven’t already guessed, falls in love with Tenchi. Eventually an evil bishonen from space comes, who does not fall in love with Tenchi (except in doujinshi) and they have to fight. The plot is a little different in the television series, but you get the picture.

I was quite a fan myself. I had never seen a show like it before. What was that saying you told me Hisu? You will forgive the first one? I’d say that is true, I haven’t found a harem anime worth watching since. Once again, we are seeing a large cast with a lot of different personalities, so it is easy to find someone you like. It is mostly situational humor with mixed in serious parts.

Despite my somewhat tongue in cheek overview of Tenchi, it’s a rather enjoyable show and rather easily accessible. The characters in the Tenchi are fairly iconic and seem to have had imitators and homages to them for years now. For some odd unknown reason, I really like Mihoshi in the original OAVs. I’m not sure why.

My feeling on why shows fall out of favor is, that is the cycle of entertainment. In general, nothing in that industry lasts forever. And if it does, it is a classic. Very few shows are going to fall into that category. To me, for something to become classic, it must bring something new to the table. It should show us something different, make us think in a new way, or make you feel like you’re watching anime for the first time. They aren’t supposed to come along everyday. But that doesn’t mean if it isn’t classic it isn’t worth watching.

Narutaki Currently!
Watching Story of Saiunkoku
Reading Nosatsu Junkie
Listening to Aya Ueto

Hisu (Brainwasher Detective) Currently:
Watching Hellsing Ultimate
Reading Clamp no Kiseki
Listening to Life is Like a Boat by Rie fu

Top 5 shows that got me into anime
5. Demon City Shinjuku
4. Tenchi Muyo in Love
3. Akira
2. Record of Lodoss War
1. Ninja Scroll

6 thoughts on “Lost in the shuffle.

  1. Lothos says:

    It might have just been the circle of people I was talking to at the time on IRC, but El-Hazard seemed to be a show everyone was watching when it came out. I’ve only seen a few episodes of it myself, I liked what I saw (Fujisawa rocks) but never really got into it for some reason.

    What I find to be kind of interesting is that I didn’t actually watch hardly any of the shows mentioned in this thread except for Tenchi-Muyo, Fushigi Yuugi, and Record of Lodoss War. I’ve seen a few episodes of everything, but nothing more than that.

    Probably the most recent show I remember there being a lot of buzz about and everyone saying things like “OMG you gotta see this!!” was Wolf’s Rain. I enjoyed the series very much and thought it was quite original, but now you never really hear anything about it.

    On a side note, I just saw the Kanye West w/ Daft Punk video for “Stronger” a couple weeks ago. It uses clips from Akira and recreates some of the scenes in the movie. I’m always impressed with the quality of the animation and artwork in Akira. To this day I’ve not seen many animated movies which had the same level of detail as many scenes in Akira did. And don’t get me started on the soundtrack…it’s freaking amazing and the fact that it’s with pretty much invented instruments makes it even more amazing.

    Top 5 shows that got me into anime:

    Honorary Honorable Mention: The Little Prince. Another show I immensely enjoyed during my childhood but did not learn until later was as Japanese production of of the French novel.

    Honorable Mention: Kimba the White Lion (aka Jungle Emperor). Loved that show as a kid though I didn’t know it was from Japan.

    5. Genocyber
    4. Akira
    3. Tenchi-Muyo
    2. Robot Carnival
    1. Ninja Scroll

    Yeah, so I made it my top 7, big whoop, wanna fight about it?

  2. reversethieves says:

    Well, if we are going to give mention to shows that we didn’t know were anime as getting us into (which I don’t normally do), then my honorable mentions would be Voltron and Sherlock Hound.
    I wonder why so many of the same things are on both of our lists…HUUUMMMMMMM…

    Narutaki

  3. phatbhuda says:

    Sherlock Hound?! wtf is that? haha

    I wasn’t exposed to “anime” until college, and was subjected to it by women, as the pink haired one can attest to. So here’s the stuff I got exposed to in order of appearance:

    1. Sailor Moon
    2. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
    3. Ghost in the Shell
    4. Dragonball Z

    Isn’t it amazing that I’ve turned in to the sophisticated anime viewer that I am now?

  4. reversethieves says:

    Get your act together and watch Sherlock Hound, Hayao Miyazaki directed some of the episodes! 6 episodes were released by Just For Kids in the early 90’s, along with a handful of other kids anime, I think I still have those tapes somewhere. And the entire series was finally released by Geneon a few years back but has since gone out-of-print. Thank goodness I bought them.

    Narutaki

  5. Jeremy Williams says:

    GAAAAAAH!!!!!!(gurglegurgle) I LOVE Tenchi Muyo TO DEATH!!!! I’m absolutetly psycho for it! I was surprised to find out that there actually was a harem anime that predates Tenchi Muyo, although I am unsure of how popular it was here in the states. It’s called The Irresponsible Captain Tylor; you’ve probably heard of it.
    As for shows I loved before I knew they were anime, my main squeeze was a Nick jr series called Littl’ Bits (and no, that’s not a spelling error. XD). It ran on Nick between 1992 and 1994, in the David the Gnome era.

  6. reversethieves says:

    Captain Tylor has always been somewhat of a cult classic here in the states. It never had casual fans but it has always had hardcore fans. Right Stuf thought it popular enough to come out with those special edition DVDs a while back.
    Captain Tylor was based on a series of Light Novels that extends the story way past where the OAVs end. I asked Right Stuf if they were interested in picking up the novels but they said they were staying far away from licensing books or manga or any kind. The TV series plays a few things quite differently than the novels so I think they would be worth a read.
    Actually I have to remember to shop the idea around of licensing the Tylor Novels at New York Anime Festival.
    Narutaki can disagree with me, but I think that Captain Tylor is not a harem show. It has similarities (it’s certainly closer to a harem show than Urusei Yatsura). I mean there is that one episode were all the girls try to sleep with Tylor, but most of the series is comedy sci-fi and not romantic comedy. I would concede that it has some slight harem show concepts but is in no way a harem show. Tylor is too cool to be a harem show lead.
    I really like Tylor so many that is why I don’t want it to be a harem show.
    BTW the Littl’ Bits played on Nickelodeon the same time as The Mysterious Cities of Gold and that show was the business. The Mysterious Cities of Gold is getting a DVD release in England and eventually in the U.S. and Australia.
    – Hisui

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