Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Moving forward in to the 90's with the knowledge of a Video programme that would be a part of the British Science Fiction Convention (EastCon 90) taking place over the weekend of the 14th. of April, and the hopes of meeting like-minded people for the first time, gave me the motivation to find more information and make new contacts regarding Japanese popular culture.
[Note: In Post 6. I touched upon the importance of the British FanZine MekTek.
The art of polite letter writing, whether a letter was handwritten or typed (on a manual typewriter no less!) people did embellish the envelopes, make their own letter-headed paper, and had little pieces of artwork to accompany their signature, this all added to the Pen-Pals network a sense of community however far apart we all where. Having the patience for a reply (that would take weeks in some cases, as International mail can take its time), add to this that you may not be the only person writing to them that week, the time scale for communicating back and fourth was unlike today’s electronic mail and messaging services for speed of delivery!
[Note: In Post 25. I start to hint at the importance of the September (1989) issue of Appleseed Book 3 part 2, as the gateway to the American Anime Fandom, and a means to contact Pen-Pals in the Uk. American Anime Fandom, started to find more details here EDC & Anime Hasshin.]
So the the two main American Anime Fan clubs I contacted where 'Anime Hasshin' and the E.D.C., and may I add that I was not the only one who had seen the listings in the issue of the Appleseed Comic-book, and that many American Fan clubs had contacts and members lists to put people in touch with one another, that was all part of the family of the Anime Fandom in those days. As you can see from these flyer’s Anime characters, Science Fiction and Comedies where popular icons of the day!
I hope you can name all the Anime characters?!
Saturday, 15 February 2014
As an afterword to the 80's I feel I must add to the UK's Anime & Manga history a few words on the Robot invasion to our shores from FASA Corporation's franchise “BattleTech” its gritty interpretation of the fare future, in which the Succession Wars are set in the 31st century several hundred years after the fall of the Star League when humanity had colonised the stars, now feudal lords continuously war for more territory across the stars, planet by planet. It's not a shiny future as most, if not all of the manufacturing technology and know-how has been destroyed by conflict, this thoughtfully fleshed-out universe could easily be compared to the political back-drop from frank herbert's Dune.
What makes this far flung future so engrossing is the men and women who pilot the war machines used in these conflicts, called Mechs, the constant repair, and decay, the scavenging for parts, even the danger of the machine over heating and shutting-down was as much a risk of battle than the enemy! These Mechs bipedal 30ft to 50ft. Tall human-like war machines were categorised as; Light; Medium; Heavy; Assault, and LAMs and organised in to a Lance, a squad of 4 Mechs to suit the theatre of battle and there mission objectives.
[Note: I had a copy of the 'Technical Readout: 3025' published in 1986\1987, it had 55 'Mechs, 15 aerospace fighters, 3 LAMs, 4 DropShips and 12 combat vehicles, and all background details for the BattleTech universe, and their properties in the game.]
[Note: What the 'Technical Readout: 3025' showed was original Mechanical Designs faithfully copied from Japanese Anime TV shows (but no details given of their origins) "Fang of the Sun Dougram" from Sunrise Studios, and Studio Nue's "Crusher Joe" & "Super Dimension Fortress Macross". These designs stood out far beyond the home-grown American Mechs designs, and in many cases had been seen as model kits either imported original kits or re-badged kits by Revell.]
Now BattleTech also re-badged these robot model kits, it was a great time for Science Fiction model making hobbyists, and another opportunity to find out more about the Japanese cartoon shows, leading to Amine & Manga!
[Note: BattleTech\FASA Corporation had unbeknown to us at the time, had a few licensing legal issues with other American companies, most notably 'Harmony Gold' who thought that it owned the Intellectual Property of “Macross” and any of its images and thus merchandise! Hence BattleTech of the late 80's & early 90's is referred 'Classic BattleTech', and many Mech designs are now unseen!]
I will leave you the reader to explore and search for knowledge on "Crusher Joe", "Super Dimension Fortress Macross" & "Fang of the Sun Dougram", enjoy. [you do have the Internet and its search-engines NOW!]
Tuesday, 4 February 2014
Robotech comic-books and novels gave us (in the UK); a grasp of the plots of this Science Fiction series called Robotech, that was like nothing else we had come across to this side of the pond.
The flood of these helped maximized the impact, with the simultaneous release of Comico's 'Robotech - The Macross saga', 'Robotech - Masters', and 'Robotech - The New Generation', and add to this the Robotech Novels by “Jack McKinney” from Del Rey Books coming out every month for the first year, to a total of 21 novels, as well as Matchbox Toys. The American company 'Harmony Gold' was getting very well known!
[Note: Del Rey Books' Publishers note states that “While the above biogrophy is accurate, it is actually a composite bio of two authors who agreed to merge minds and identities to become Jack McKinney, and reflects the influence of various friends and advisors for the Robotech series.”]
[Side note: the Robotech Art book1 (1986); has 25 pages devoted to Robotech's roots in Japanese Anime from the 1950's to the mid 1980's, a 2 page introduction on “Harmony Gold” (the American production company) as well another 2 pages listing the staff and their job tiles who work for “Harmony Gold”, and the a comprehensive list of name changes from the Japanese Anime to the American Robotech TV show ( I was able to provide these name changes to Helen McCarthy for an early article she would write on Robotech) – And you will be surprised to know about the days before and after the “Carl F. Macek Gallery” (1982) which sold pencil art & original cels & film posters of animation from around the World.]
There were also detailed Robotech Role-Playing game books and promotional gazettes published by Palladium books that had started to be imported by the late 80's given Mecha fans.
Palladium books also distributed Robotech episodes on VHS (NTSC) tapes in the US & Canada.
The Canadian Official Robotech Fanzine 'Protoculture Addicts' was the first of the irregular publications to hit our shores in the UK, that centred on this much beloved TV show and also hinted at a much wider world of animation that did not dumb-down to its young audience, referred to as Japanimation.
[Note: I have tried to convey the impact to the UK in the 1980's, so I've not lingered on details, and leave it up to you the reader to search for more information.]
In the 1980's without Macross there would be no Robotech, and without Robotech and its Fandoms in Canada and in the USA peeking our curiosity for giant robots and providing us with the springboard to look in to its Japanese origins and other Anime, the UK Anime Fandom would have surely stalled!
Robotech should no longer be thought of as “frankenstein's monster” but a doorway to Anime from a simpler time that reached so many!
Monday, 3 February 2014
The late 80's was for a few of us the very start of pen-pals becoming a UK Anime Fandom, with the help of many different American animation fan-clubs. With so little in the way of cartoon series on our meager 4 terrestrial Television channels (and Satellite TV was out of reach of so many); that SF Geeks could follow, even such shows as 'Battle of the Planets' and 'G-Force', 'Ulysses 31' (that later would be know as Anime) were episodic in nature, story arcs, sub-plots, and character development were practically non-existent for what was essentially a kids TV cartoon shows.
[NOTE: ROBOTECH was shown on a cable & satellite TV channel called 'Premiere' in 1986 onwards (also known as 'Mirrorvision' from 1985) in the England, at 4.30pm to 5.45pm. (the after school slot). You can find a link to the 1986 'Premiere' channel preview at http://www2.tv-ark.org.uk/otherchannels/premiere.html .]
[NOTE: 'Premiere' was the original pioneer in broadcasting subscription premium movies, and to view the channel via satellite you would have needed some expensive equipment and a satellite dish of around 1.5 metres in size! It's largest audience was via Cable TV. ( I have yet to fine the full extent of its broadcast subscription area) -]
[NOTE: Alan Russell Wrote on the 22nd of March 1990 telling me that “ Premiere HAVE SCREED BOTH 'THE Macross Saga' and 'Masters', but not 'New Generation' which as far as I know is unshown over here.” & “ROBOTECH itself does have of course have quite a following in the UK and has been shown on Satellite and Cable courtesy of 'Premiere' and the Super channel”. This may have been more to the south of England as I had not heard or see it in the Midlands in the 80's. - The Premiere channel shut down in July 1989).]
[NOTE: Other Cable & satellite channels such as the 'Super Channel' launched its opening night on January 30th 1987 (the station was taken over by American broadcaster NBC in 1993) that I've been told that it to showed ROBOTECH. - but I can not find any more information at this time.]
The 'Robotech' franchise with all its merchandise had gradually filtered down to the UK, to its hobby shops and comic-book outlets, and toy shops with it came one of our main sources of information on Anime. Little by little we learned about how the Japanese animated TV series 'Super dimensional fortress Macross' was reborn and remoulded as the first saga of a generational story arc for an American audience under the title Robotech.
[Note: The irrational dislike or hatred of spiders and snakes is at some point a learnt response, so In that vein I will add 'Robotech' & the man most closely associated with it 'Carl Macek' be given a fair hearing and for you the reader an open mind. From my own point of view the Anime series 'Macross', that inspired the start of an American cartoon franchise 'Robotech', that still fuels the debate to this day, on how to edit and dub Japanese animation for a mainstream Western\English speaking audience, more so than the Dub Vs Sub debate.]
[Note: I will centre on the first Robotech saga 'Macross' as it was the least altered from its Anime counterpart.]
'Super dimensional fortress Macross' aired in Japan in 1982 and ran for 36 episodes was the brainchild of Shoji Kawamori together with the talents of Kazutaka Miyatake and Shoji Kawamori from of Studio Nue designing the iconic Mecha, and character designs by Haruhiko Mikimoto from the Artland animation studio.
What made this kids cartoon stand out was its storytelling that took you along in seeing the characters grow with their relationships with one another in dealing with the situations thrust upon them in a realistic manner. The troubles and emotions of a love triangle, the struggle of civilian and military points of view in the face of conflict, friendship born of battle, and the loss of a comrade, and women’s careers (military & that of an Idol singer) taking their toll on relationships, all taking place against the backdrop of the first Human-Alien war, and the constant threat of the next battle just around the corner. Coupled with this, the action of futuristic battles featuring the recognisable Mecha (from the model kits boom in the 80's) and space battles the like of which had not been seen since Star Wars. The Robotech 'Macross saga' would gain a growing and loyal fan-base for these reasons.
[Note: Very little was edited in the way of story arc from Macross, but the other two cartoon shows Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross ( The Masters) & Genesis Climber Mospeada (The New Generation) were somewhat altered to tie-in the story arc (they were added to meet demands of American television minimum syndication needs of 65 episodes. Robotech's 85 episodes was originally aired in North America in1985).]