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Starz Inside – “Anime: Drawing a Revolution”
Hosted By: Richard Roeper
Featuring: Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriquez, Lauren Holly, Crispin Freeman, Wendee Lee, Hal Sparks, Veronica Taylor, Rob Zombie, Peter Fernandez, David Silverman
Premieres: Monday, December 17, 2007 9:00 pm on Starz
In this edition of Starz Inside, Starz explores the increasingly popular animation style, anime. The documentary looks at the history of the genre, the pioneers and its influence in current film and television. A number of people in the entertainment industry, ranging from animators like David Silverman (The Simpsons) to actors (Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez) and even musicians (Rob Zombie), participate in the episode by talking about how anime has affected their work and the way they view animation.
The documentary digs into the history of the genre, including a bit about one of the pioneers, Osamu Tezuka. As I know very little about anime, I had no idea who Tezuka was but apparently, he’s like the Walt Disney of Japanese animation. Video clips from various anime films, TV shows and music videos (examples: Ghost in the Shell, Speed Racer, Linkin Park’s “Breaking The Habit”) are shown to better illustrate how the genre has become a popular style for American entertainment. From Transformers to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Pokemon, American kids have been enjoying anime for decades.
Most anime fanatics would argue that anime is not entirely for kids and based on the number of conventions that take place in this country celebrating the anime “culture,” they’re probably right. The documentary gets into that, and many of the participants agree that in addition to the appeal of the style of the animation, it’s also the depth and emotional nature of the story in many anime cartoons that tends to draw in older viewers. And speaking of adult fans, the episode gets into the sexual aspect of anime a little bit when discussing hentai (pornographic anime). Cartoon porn isn’t nearly as popular in American animation as it is in anime. Examples of this sub-genre of anime are shown (viewer discretion advised).
I’ll be honest: In general, I have no real interest in anime. Shows like Pokemon tend to freak me out. Perhaps it’s the fact that I never really paid much attention to the genre but I didn’t truly appreciate the impact it’s had on TV and film (especially big movies like The Matrix, Kill Bill and 300) until I had the opportunity to watch this installment of Starz Inside. While I can’t say that the episode will make me want to watch a movie like Ghost in the Shell, it did definitely help me appreciate the artform a lot more.
The final verdict: Anime fanatics and even casual fans of the style will most likely find Starz Inside’s “Anime: Drawing a Revolution” entertaining and informative. The episode provides a fair amount of information about the genre as well as many interesting insights into the artform and its effect on popular culture.