Anime World Order Show # 123 – Hopefully Nermal Was Not in the Nuclear Explosion

To kick off 2014, Gerald has taken it upon himself to review the 2012 feature film 009 Re: Cyborg. We also delve into an oft-repeated discussion of modern anime regarding its hierarchy relative to other special interest media.

35 thoughts on “Anime World Order Show # 123 – Hopefully Nermal Was Not in the Nuclear Explosion

  1. It’s been so long since all three of the AWO have podcasted together. Great to have this episode.

    Anime/Manga fans vs.Cartoon/Comics fans.. It’s an interesting rivalry for those who choose one side over another. The problem I’ve run into from anime/manga fans is that they think manga is so undeniably sophisticated, citing manga like Death Note as the end all of the comics medium yet say all American/European comics suck in every way it’s not what they perceive to be manga, except for Deadpool comics. Sigh. But hey guys American/European comics are going through a revolution of sorts. They’re becoming even easier to get ahold of through services like Comixology and we’re also getting all kinds of non-superhero stories through people like Image Comics outselling some of Marvel and DC’s books.

    I guess a good argument for comics/cartoons fans to try anime/manga stuff would be to point out for every dumb superhero book, there’s a dumb shonen manga/anime. They’re really not too different in that category. -and outside of the superhero/shonen stuff there’s just so much more in the medium, but you have to look for it on both sides.

    There is mature stuff out there, its just about as saturated in the superhero stuff as the anime is saturated in the shonen stuff.

    For comics/cartoon people, maybe they will come across anime before too long. At least Netflix is trying to simulcast anime. Knights of Sidonia is coming to Netflix soon. Hopefully that has some success.
    (https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2013-12-12/netflix-to-stream-knights-of-sidonia-anime-in-summer-2014)

    Cyborg 009, I actually really loved seeing that on TV. I really, really wish the whole thing would get re-licensed by someone else. ..and someone get 009 Re: Cyborg. I’m half tempted to just import the PAL release since apparently no one in the U.S. gives a shit about it.. Of course, I haven’t seen 009 Re: Cyborg yet but I’ve heard it’s not that great. ..better luck next time?

    • But hey guys American/European comics are going through a revolution of sorts. They’re becoming even easier to get ahold of through services like Comixology and we’re also getting all kinds of non-superhero stories through people like Image Comics outselling some of Marvel and DC’s books.

      I still miss the days of going to the drug store a couple houses down for my comic fix.

  2. What a podcast :) I guess that I don’t feel guilty never having checked RE Cyborg 009. The trailers just didin’t speak to me. And I’m a big fan of the 1980 tv series as well as the film (The legend of the supervortex which was badly translated as The legend of the supergalaxy). The 1980 film while old by all means is still pure 100% Cyborg 009 and definitely worth watching.
    The 2000 series was never made available in Italy so I hadn’t had the occasion to see it. But I think that sooner or later I’ll remedy.
    One little nitpick when Gerald described the characters, remember Cyborg 009 was written during the cold war hence you can’t just say Cyborg 004 comes from Germany.
    Which Germany ? ^_^ Albert Heinrich comes from Communist East Germany.

  3. Is it just me or does Gerald say “Wakamote”? [HE TOTALLY DOES. --Daryl] Last year’s hot new anime that follows Fozzy Bear through his darkly awkward adolescence.

    Just giving you a hard time! I enjoyed the episode, although I’m not rushing out to see RE: Cyborg. I’ve really liked Ishinomori’s style ever since as a kid I read the Legend of Zelda comic he did for Nintendo Power. I’ve enjoyed similar styles in Harlock, 009-1 and Giant Robo and now plan to check out the 2001 Cyborg 009 series.

    I’d also like to add my two cents to your discussion of anime in relation to other special interest media. I’m the only big anime fan among my group of friends and I’ve tried to introduce some of them to what I like best in anime these days, with almost no success. I showed Sword of the Stranger at a movie night and it fell flat. I tried to get people to check out Attack on Titan and the only one who did complained about all the “melodrama.”

    From this I learned two things. First, if people aren’t interested in the spectacle of action through animation, they’re going to be hard converts. The first time I saw Sword of the Stranger, I immediately jumped back and watched the last half hour again. What I was seeing absolutely delighted me. When I showed it to friends, they focused on the predictable plot beats. If all someone wants from film is direct transmission of a story, they might be a lost cause.

    Secondly, I think my friends (and possibly Western audiences in general) see characters in anime acting with genuine, deeply felt emotion and immediately write it off as melodrama. They see the characters as shallow and naive where I see them as refreshingly passionate. They are much prefer a charming and sardonic alien with a British accent and a tragic past, while I find the idea unspeakably boring. I weep for them, that they will never know the joy of watching One Piece, where the characters’ absolute lack of guile is 100% of the appeal.

    I did get one gal in my group to rewatch Wolf’s Rain, as she remembered liking it when she was younger and digs werewolves. She’s expressed interest in seeing Escaflowne too, mostly on account of the pretty boys I’d wager. So in short, find out what your friends like outside of anime and if there’s a show that crosses into that territory, that’ll be your best foot in the door.

    Anyway, these are just my observations that might not apply more broadly and I’ve already written way too much. Keep up the good work, I look forward to what you’ve got for us in 2014!

    PS: Please review BASTARD!!! (anime, or manga if you truly are MOST DANGEROUS)

    • If Attack on Titan had better characterization and less melodrama, it would have been a near-perfect show. As it stands, it’s just a pretty neat show with a solid concept and decent action. The stock characters reduce it to something that’s worth seeing once but not really wanting to revisit.

      • I think it is true that anime often expresses emotion and sentiment in ways that are melodramatic, and also sentimental, by the standards of American movies and TV. Even Cowboy Bebop, the epitome of anime cool, could be that way (I’m thinking of “Waltz For Venus”), and you see examples of it also in the otherwise tough and cynical Black Lagoon.

        These elements aren’t *bad* things, per se, but there may be a limited number of American adults who can enjoy them in the mix, or at least tolerate them–and toleration is probably too low a bar to broaden a show’s popularity. By the same token, I think the emotional tone of anime and manga is also what attracts some foreign fans to it, as it’s a taste they can’t necessarily find in their own culture’s entertainment.

        I always say that anime is Japanese first and animation second, so I don’t think this melodrama and sentiment are because it’s anime; you see it also in Japanese movies and live-action. It’s almost as if they’re a different culture!

      • The melodrama is precisely why I love anime and manga, and this is also why I don’t think anime will ever be more than a novelty in the Western world in the eyes of most adults. Since around the start of the Realist movement in the latter 1800s, the West has looked down on melodrama in storytelling. This never happened in Asia, at least in as big of form. Romance of the Three Kingdoms is still considered to be a great classic all across Asia; yet, the Iliad (which I view to be Western work in a similar vein) is looked upon as “simple” by many people. It, Beowulf, and other similar works can’t simply be enjoyed for their moving displays of emotion; no, they have to “critically” be read so the author can yank stuff about environmentalism and Marxism out of the texts that aren’t even there. Fist of the North Star is still fondly remembered in Japan due to their love for stories of this sort; yet, many people in the States consider Fist of the North Star to be borderline drivel or “outdated” here in the states. The emailer’s friend likely associates melodrama with immaturity, and getting an anime without melodrama in some form is like finding a needle in a haystack. It’s not that she’s outgrown anime; it’s that she’s associating simplicity with immaturity. Sometimes, simple is best.

        In short, unless the US and, to a lesser extent, the rest of the West get off their high horse and learn to appreciate melodrama again, I doubt it’ll be much bigger than it currently is.

        As for RE: Cyborg, I know a French guy who loves it, but he’s a huuuuuge fan of the God’s War arc from the original manga, which this movies is supposed to be a conclusion to. Have you guys read it, or familiar with it somewhat?

        I’ve heard that the reason for the Cyborg 009 US comic adaptation is because IshiPro is pushing to get a Hollywood movie made; that’s also why a bunch of Ishinomori manga are now available on Comixology. I wish they’d release more Cyborg 009; they simply scanned the first 10 volumes Tokyopop did and uploaded them. It’s been nine months since their last release. I guess IshiPro could be working on a translation of the rest, and they’re just waiting until they have enough done to release them at a consistent pace; I sent an email to Comixology about this, and they don’t really know.

  4. The question in the episode was really good. I have stumbled across this anime “2 Queens” http://vimeo.com/72091569. It’s a production by French director Savin Yeatman-Eiffel (Oban Star-Racers) and by Toshiyuki Inoue (Ghost in the Shell, Millennium Actress). Hopefully this will get some traction.

    Great review! Re: Cyborg was a big disappointment for me. I liked the Pepsi commercials better than the movie itself. That’s how i sold it to my anime watching friends before it was available.

  5. I will never understand this notion of pandering to the Western casual audience when it’s been proven time and time again that they make terrible consumers of anime because they almost never support the anime they enjoy.

    • I don’t think that an anime that can reach a wider Western audience is necessarily one that panders to it. I personally don’t regard (for example) anime with influence from Western movies or music, etc., to be pandering.

      But I also think you have a good point that if you’re going to deliberately try and make an anime with that crossover appeal, you also need a strategy beforehand as to how you plan to recoup from that wider audience–otherwise it may be a wasted gesture. You’re right that there’s a set of hardcore fans whose numbers may be relatively small, but who can be counted on to buy what they’re asked to buy in support of the title (There is also a set of hardcore fans that just downloads everything, of course).

      I think those fans who do wish anime was wider known (and not all fans wish this) feel that way in part for emotional rather than business reasons. Because they love anime, they wish more people loved and respected it as well. Also, even though a person may be a fan in their private life, we all live in the wider world–we have friends, family, co-workers. It’s natural that you might wish they were all talking about the latest episode of a cool anime the way they might all talk about, say, the latest episode of Sherlock. For reasons AWO discussed, that isn’t much of a rational expectation, but again, I think some fans feel that way out of a love of anime.

  6. Catching up with your podcast while at work today, but I’ve been a “lurker” for a few years now. This review of 009 reminded me of all of the things I disliked about Ghost in the Shell: Arise, which is also really soulless and dependent on you already knowing and loving the Section 9 cast to make it work. It felt like Len Wiseman’s GITS. Kind of a bummer to hear it’s bad, but Kamiyama’s stuff works a lot better in television form than in movies. As good as SAC is, Solid State is its shakiest entry as it’s just so busy.

    Being an early-’90s anime fan, I remember well the phenomenon of the anime/manga fan acting like their chosen form of nerd food was the best, and American cartoons were crap (I was guilty of this for a while and grew out of it) and now it simply appears that the shoe is on the other foot. Zac Bertschy calls it “nerd tribalism” on ANNcast and the ANN forum and it is a pretty silly mindset that’s easy to get sucked into.

  7. When you were talking about how Cyborg 009 was considered progressive for its time, I kept waiting for you to add “…compared to the original Japanese version of Astro Boy, where he had a shuffling manservant, Chauncey.”

    I remember people comparing 009 to X-Men back in the 80s, but I think people were only doing so to try and get people into it, rather than accusing Ishimori (I don’t think he’d added the “no” then–kind of like appending a “von” to your name) of taking the idea from Lee and Kirby. I even remember Mai the Psychic Girl being compared to X-Men–in fact, I think that was one of the factors in choosing that particular manga to license.

  8. About the question about “what to do with people who don’t want to watch anime anymore and are satisfied with Western shows”. Let them. People do burn out. There is no way an anime fan would reach a point where he has “watched all good anime” because there is always more. But if all “good anime” for him/her are the ones that he happened to watch when he was interested in Japanese animation, well, his days as a fan have past obviously, just let him be.

  9. I was going to watch 009 RE:CYBORG as my entry to the franchise, but after listening to this review I think I’ll check out the 2001 series instead.

    • I would too. Just seeing those character designs put me off completely. Jet’s not the same without that eagle head/beak look!

  10. I haven’t seen SAC yet (I will, I swear!) but as I was watching the movie, it almost seemed like they were following the superficial archetypes of an american grim and gritty reboot as established by Batman and James Bond. Lots of 9/11 references. No humor whatsoever, everything is serious business! Nobody is allowed to just get along with each other, and the hero has to rebel against the group that he works for, because “they don’t know if they can trust him”!

    Also, didn’t they say that Ishinomori’s son will finish the story for the manga? I only saw one article about that somewhere and nothing else.

    As for the other topic…some people don’t like animation…period. And nothing in the world will ever change that. For some people (my parents, for instance), animation is funny animals and fairy tales, because that’s what they grew up with, and anything else is desecration.

  11. I’d tell listener Elizabeth that comparing Japanese cartoons to Western media is an apples / oranges thing, they’re both providing different forms of entertainment and playing one against the other is a fool’s game. I’d also tell her to watch whatever she wants to watch and it’s none of her friends’ business what she watches, that she doesn’t have to justify her entertainment choices to anyone, ever, period, full stop. Seriously, it’s not 1999 any more people, we don’t have to sell Japanese cartoons to anybody. We don’t have to be evangelists any more. It’s not our job. If people don’t want to watch them, fine, let them not watch them. More beer for us.

    As a big-deal 009 fan (thanks for the links!) I agree with your assessment of the 009 film – with some caveats. I wasn’t as distracted by the animation as Gerald seemed to be – it was a specific look Kamiyama was going for and he got it, for the most part, and the updated character designs worked for me, especially 008 who actually gets to look like an actual black man for once. It’s a pity the film CRIMINALLY UNDERUSED HIM. Ditto 004. I thought the action scenes were visually exciting and there weren’t enough of them, the script needed five or ten more passes through the writing room, and there needed to be some scenes where the team does team stuff, where they assert their humanity in spite of their cyborg bodies, where friendship and courage win out over hate and greed. That’s what a 009 story should deliver. This film did not. Its only success may be as an advertising campaign for Panasonic 3D TVs – certainly that was what it was being used for in the summer of 2012 when we were in Tokyo.

    I think the film’s worth watching for the 009 fan, if only to see what the hell everybody looks like now. For the more casual viewer, it’s a maybe. If you aren’t invested in the characters, the eye candy might not outweigh the confusion and the meandering and the endless scenes of characters discussing the confusion and the meandering. OTOH if you really want to see 007 and 002 drink whisky, this is the movie for you.

    • Seriously, it’s not 1999 any more people, we don’t have to sell Japanese cartoons to anybody. We don’t have to be evangelists any more. It’s not our job. If people don’t want to watch them, fine, let them not watch them. More beer for us.

      It’s hard for some to move on I guess.

      As a big-deal 009 fan (thanks for the links!) I agree with your assessment of the 009 film – with some caveats. I wasn’t as distracted by the animation as Gerald seemed to be – it was a specific look Kamiyama was going for and he got it, for the most part, and the updated character designs worked for me, especially 008 who actually gets to look like an actual black man for once. It’s a pity the film CRIMINALLY UNDERUSED HIM. Ditto 004.

      That’s a shame, hearing of how isolated the team is used here also annoyed me a bit. The writing certainly needed to flesh these guys out. Just doesn’t seem like a film I would want to watch immediately.

      and there needed to be some scenes where the team does team stuff, where they assert their humanity in spite of their cyborg bodies, where friendship and courage win out over hate and greed. That’s what a 009 story should deliver. This film did not. Its only success may be as an advertising campaign for Panasonic 3D TVs – certainly that was what it was being used for in the summer of 2012 when we were in Tokyo.

      Someone was paying the bills.

      I think the film’s worth watching for the 009 fan, if only to see what the hell everybody looks like now.

      If we must. It would make me want those old designs back.

  12. Dear AWO,

    I think you should kick off 2014 by reviewing the latest series Sakura Trick. It’s a show that might be up your alley. Perhaps you can get Gerald to do it since he has an anime club.

    While you’re at it, ask Mr. Rathkolb if is willing to start a Lets Play Youtube account since he plays a lot of videogames.

    Also, please stop bothering with real life and do more podcasts. Yes, your listenership must’ve peaked a while back, but so what? You have yet to review a Gundam series for whatever reason. Make that your goal this year. Mecha podcasts are the best.

    Regards.

    • I don’t really know how much of a “review” we could do for a series that has only been on for like, a week. Anime is full of things that start off at one level of quality but change drastically by the end. The best we could do is give our “initial impressions,” but since everybody’s currently doing that for everything being simulcast, there’s not much we could add to the discussion. Everyone’s seen it for themselves, and nothing we say would change anyone’s minds.

      That’s the exact same reason why we have yet to review a Gundam series. Everyone already knows what Gundam is and has made up their mind as to whether or not it is something they care to watch. Most people asking for reviews already know the series back and forth, such that all that could happen from our doing a review would be that we either repeat their opinions back to them or raise a ruckus for failing to do so.

    • Why not discuss Zeta (the series, not the new movies)? People all claim its this amazing landmark series that everyone should get into, why not talk about why that is (or isn’t)? Talk about how fans may have been overpraising the series, or maybe how Tomino ripped off Ideon’s ending? Why not review a show nobody’s watched, like ZZ? Or what about Legend of Galactic Heroes? Not a Tomino show, but I’ve heard you guys talk about it in passing before. That’s a great show to tackle in its entirety!

      • To talk about the Zeta series without mentioning Gundam 0079 and ZZ would be useless. To understand Gundam you need to understand Tomino’s underlying philosophy about Man. And truth be told most of Tomino’s Gundam shows are mediocre if not really bad. Yes, even in Japan most didn’t give a crap about Zeta when it aired in the mid Eighties and neither did they give a crap about Char’s Counterattack when it came out in the cinema. Western fandom has this “strange” idea about Tomino and has basically deified him to such a level that it is absolutely ridiculous. Seriously most UC TV shows are crap, from a narrative perspective. So I don’t see the need for AWO to go on this road.

        However if they wanted to talk about Tomino’s approach to story telling and his idea about human nature and how it can be changed IF it can be changed at all then they need only consider 3 things: the Gundam Film, Ideon and Turn A Gundam. These 3 basically tackle the same underlying theme that has permeated Tomino’s entire career but approached from different perspectives and they give different answers to the same basic question. Obviously since they correspond to 3 different points in Tomino’s life. Ideon is very nihilistic (and no the universe doesn’t go poof at the end) while Turn A Gundam is almost poetic in its definitive answer and a much more positive one than Ideon.

        PS: Tomino didn’t rip Ideon’s ending in Zeta, and neither did Anno in Evangelion. Most people really haven’t understood that ending at all.

        I though AWO already did review LOtGH but maybe I’m wrong [If you went ahead and checked that Review Index which is linked at the top of every page on this site and mentioned at the start and end of pretty much every episode--or, barring that, entered any of those title names into the Search box up top--you would see that we have indeed discussed Ideon, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and yes even Gundam at length. I don't know what else we'd really have to say about them. --Daryl]. I would certainly love to hear the crew talk about what is in my opinion Japan’s finest animation ever. And one that is so unique it will never be attempted again.

  13. Gotta say I agree 100% on you guys’ thoughts on 009: Re Cyborg. I reviewed it on my blog a while ago and was a tad hesitant to give it as mixed a review as I did because I thought I’d be the only one utterly lost and confused by the thing. The animation wasn’t as much of a problem, as I enjoyed the action scenes but wasn’t a fan of everything else.

  14. I think the real answer for dealing with a person that calls anime inferior to American television is to show them Black Lagoon.

  15. You should at some point in 2014 review Rose of Versailles, since its availability has massively increased. [I reviewed The Rose of Versailles already for Otaku USA, which is why I am quoted on the DVD box for it. --Daryl]

    Also, I wouldn’t mind seeing a review of Fairy Florence out of ya, since you’ve reviewed almost all of Sanrio’s work.

    IMO, a reboot for Cyborg 009 would have made a lot more sense if they were aiming for an international audience. Makes me curious about the new Captain Harlock film, since that’s also aiming for a supposed international market even though no one in the West cares about Captain Harlock.

    • Nobody cares about Captain Harlock in the West ? Ha ha ha ha. You should have said nobody in the US cares about the Space Pirate and you would have been more on the mark. In Italy it opened in theaters 1 or 2 days after january 1st 2014 and it was a massive success. It did in a couple of days as well as the film did in Japan. And by the end of its run it will probably have raked in more profit from Italian than Japanese movie goers. And let’s not even talk about France and to a lesser degree Quebec. These 2 also remember fondly Harlock. The French used to call the seventies kids generation the Generation Albator (aka Generation Harlock, yeah yeah Harlock was localized to Albator don’t ask why….). And then there is the Spanish speaking world (Mexico, and most of Latin America and of course Spain).

      • There were plenty of countries that have had fond nostalgia for Harlock when we didn’t get past the few episodes on VHS tape 30 years ago.

  16. @Cobra Thats what I meant, that show along with HNK and Saint Seiya never caught on in America due to it poor handling or coming simply too late.

    @Daryl On the podcast, I meant. [Why would I do reviews of things on the podcast which I got paid money to do reviews of? I'd only be putting myself out of work. --Daryl]

    • It would be nice to hear everyone at AWO to talk about those shows, but Daryl doesn’t review things he covers in Otaku USA. It’s an incentive for people to buy the magazine.

  17. @Daryl Hearing someone’s voice about something and reading a line of text is two different things. Anyway, have you considered reviewing Heart of Thomas or the CGI Captain Harlock movie?

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