Monday, October 8, 2012

Cartoon Network 20th Anniversary Countdown #17: Anime

Like #19 the Cartoon Network is taking the works of others so new generations can see just how cool they are.  It's not the first time anime was on cable.  There was always, for example, the whole pokemon craze and the syfy (then scifi) network would occasionally show mostly older shows.  Once I remember seeing "Tank Police" hosted by Ralph Bakshi and confusedly wondered how Fred Gwynn had the time to animate "Wizards."  What the Cartoon Network did was bring the kids and the geeks together and nothing was ever the same.

In the morning and the afternoons they would show all the Pokemon and pokeripoffs that they can cram into a two hour block.  Parents hated them because they saw them as glorified commercials for the latest video game, cards, or whatever else was being marketed that season.  They would have hated them even more if they had understood that Pokemon was the gateway drug to anime.  In their defense many of these shows weren't that bad. Pokemon was bright, lively and always had a positive message (if you ignored the central premise of capturing wild animals for arena fighting that is), Digimon has one of the best toon theme songs ever,

and One Piece is crazy fun mixing Plastic Man with Pirates.

It was after the kids (at least the good ones) went to bed that the Cartoon Network out did itself.  I remember just surfing at about eleven and then coming to this and getting absolutely gobsmacked:

Cowboy Bebop was just the beginning.  From fantasy romcoms like Inuyasha to complete cluster fests like Paranoia Agent, their line of anime at night stretched for Americans what animation was capable of doing.  For my money the jewel in the crown was showing FLCL.  First it was brave of the network to show a show that had only six episodes.  Networks tend to like a long term commitment.  Also, and pardon my Basque, but it has to be said that FLCL is bat shit crazy in a wind tunnel.  At once both a bizarre story involving aliens, guitars, and giant robots coming out of heads; it is also a thoughtful rumination of growing up out of childhood. 

So thank you Cartoon Network.  May you continue to freak the minds out of new generations.


  1. Would DragonBall Z fit into this category as well? Or was it on some other channel?

  2. I'm pretty sure it first was on US TV on Fox, but I believe the CN showed more episodes